Shoulder pain is relatively common and has many causes, including adhesive capsulitis — commonly known as a frozen shoulder. While minor shoulder injuries can cause pain and stiffness, these symptoms usually subside with a few days of rest and at-home care. If your symptoms persist, it’s time to talk to a doctor.
Syed Nasir, MD, our fellowship-trained pain management expert here at Skilled Pain Care Clinic, PA, in Houston and Katy, Texas, offers specialized treatments for the various causes of shoulder pain and mobility issues. We want to share our expertise and share details about frozen shoulders, so you know when to make an appointment with us to talk about your shoulder pain.
About frozen shoulders
A frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule surrounding your shoulder joint thickens and develops adhesions — thick bands of tissue. The condition is most common in adults aged 40-60, and women are more prone to developing a frozen shoulder than men.
Frozen shoulder symptoms usually develop in three states. Stage 1 is the freezing state. You develop shoulder pain and stiffness, and you begin to lose your range of motion. Most patients say their symptoms are worse at night and can disrupt their sleep.
The frozen stage is the second stage of the condition. Your pain might begin to subside, but your shoulder becomes increasingly stiff, and you lose more range of motion and overall function.
The third stage is thawing. Your pain and stiffness go away, and you gradually regain your range of motion.
We don’t fully understand the causes of a frozen shoulder, but we know that you’re more likely to develop the condition if you’ve had a prior injury or health problem, such as a rotator cuff tear, broken arm, or stroke. You might also experience a frozen shoulder while recovering from surgery.
Your risk of getting a frozen shoulder is also higher if you have a health condition, like diabetes, thyroid disease, or cardiovascular disease.
Diagnosing a frozen shoulder
Many injuries and degenerative conditions can cause frozen shoulder symptoms, so we provide comprehensive exams and testing to identify the root cause of your pain and reduced mobility. In addition to a physical exam and manual manipulation of your shoulder, we might order an MRI or X-ray to check for the tell-tale adhesions on your shoulder capsule.
Treating a frozen shoulder
Frozen shoulder treatment depends on the severity of your condition and how your symptoms impact your life. For example, you might benefit from pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs. We recommend physical therapy for most patients. We might also suggest steroid injections or joint distension.
However, if your condition is severe or doesn’t respond to conservative treatments, you might need surgery. If necessary, Dr. Nasir can surgically remove the adhesions and scar tissue during a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure.
You should never ignore pain, especially if it limits your mobility or quality of life. Call our offices or schedule an appointment online if you have severe shoulder pain and stiffness.