Do You Need Surgery For A Frozen Shoulder? Treatment Options For Chronic Pain

Frozen Shoulder Causing You Pain?

Adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder, is a condition where pain and stiffness occur in the shoulder, causing limited movement. This happens because of swelling of the tissues around the joint. The symptoms of a frozen shoulder begin slowly but may worsen over time. In most cases, the treatment is usually conservative, but surgery may sometimes be necessary.

Stages of a frozen shoulder

The progress of adhesive capsulitis is classified into 3 stages. The first phase, also known as the freezing stage, is characterized by increased pain and limited shoulder movement. The next phase, referred to as the frozen stage, is when the pain lessens, but stiffness is present. During the final thawing stage, shoulder movement is improved. The overall duration of the injury is from 2-24 months.

Treating shoulder pain

During the initial phases of a frozen shoulder, the healthcare provider will recommend conservative treatment. The aim is to decrease pain and improve shoulder movement. These treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, physical therapy (PT), and ice or heat application.

A closer look at PT

To treat the symptoms of a frozen shoulder, PT can help. Some patients require months of therapy, while others may need just a few sessions. The physical therapist will advise on the types of exercises needed to treat chronic pain in the shoulder. Some common exercises include forward flexion, crossover arm stretch, and external rotation. The time to heal from chronic pain for each patient varies based on the pain intensity and consistency of exercise.

Entering the operating room

Surgery is usually recommended if chronic pain persists despite trying conservative treatments. The first surgical option is manipulation under anesthesia (MUA), where the shoulder is forcefully moved to stretch the scar tissue. The second surgical option is shoulder arthroscopy, where an incision is made to release capsular adhesions or remove spurs. Sometimes both approaches are used together to get the best outcome. An orthopedic surgeon can help determine the best option after evaluating the shoulder.

No more cold shoulder

Recuperating from chronic pain in the shoulder may take up to 3 years but can vary from person to person. Conservative treatments can help, but not everyone responds. Physical therapy is the most important practice to help achieve full recovery. Individuals requiring surgery for a frozen shoulder should expect 6 weeks to 3 months of recovery. The outlook for a frozen shoulder is usually good.


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