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Your Body - Shoulder Pain / Frozen Shoulder

Also see Repetitive Strain

Shoulder Pain and Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as Adhesive Capsulitis, is a condition that affects the shoulder joint capsule and results in stiffness and loss of movement in the shoulder joint.

Anatomy of the Shoulder Joint

The shoulder joint is a truly remarkable creation. It's quite a complex formation of bones, muscles and tendons and provides a great range of motion for your arm. The only downside to this extensive range of motion is a lack of stability, which can make the shoulder joint vulnerable to injury.

The shoulder is made up of three bones, and the tendons of four muscles. (Remember, tendons attach muscle to bone.) The bones are called the "Scapula", the "Humerus" and the "Clavicle." Or, in layman's terms, the shoulder blade, the upper arm bone and the collarbone, respectively.

The four muscles which make up the shoulder joint are called, "Supraspinatus," "Infraspinatus," "Teres Minor" and "Subscapularis." It is the tendons of these muscles, which connect to the bones that help to move your arm.

Frozen shoulder occurs in the shoulder joint at the point where the humerus bone fits into the socket of the shoulder. The supporting ligaments and surrounding capsule become inflamed causing stiffness and limited motion.

Causes

The exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown, however in a number of cases, frozen shoulder occurs after another shoulder injury like arthritis or shoulder surgery.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of frozen shoulder are pain and stiffness. Pain usually takes the form of a persistent dull ache and stiffness prevents the full range of motion of the shoulder and upper arm. Patients are often unable to lift the arm above their head or rotate their arm inward.

The normal progression of frozen shoulder has been described as having two stages.

  • In stage one, (the freezing phase) the patient begins to develop mild pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. This stage can last from a few weeks to a few months.
  • In stage two, (the frozen phase) the stiffness remains but the pain begins to decline. This stage can last from a few months to nearly a year.

Most sufferers of frozen shoulder will be fully recovered within 4 to 6 months but some cases have lasted for up to three year, although these are extremely rare.

Rotator Cuff Injury - and Shoulder Tendonitis

Have you ever been working out at the gym, pushing a heavy weight and heard a popping sound in your shoulder. Or what about skiing down the slopes, and landing shoulder first in the snow at the bottom. Or maybe just having a friendly game of tennis, when all of a sudden there's a sharp pain in your shoulder.

These are all signs of the same thing; a shoulder injury. Whether you want to call it a rotator cuff tear or shoulder tendinitis, it's really all the same. A tear, strain or inflammation in the rotator cuff muscles and tendons.

Causes

There are two major causes of most shoulder injuries. The first being degeneration, or general wear and tear. Unfortunately, the shoulder is a tendinous area that receives very little blood supply. The tendons of the rotator cuff muscles receive very little oxygen and nutrients from blood supply, and as a result are especially vulnerable to degeneration with aging. This is why shoulder problems in the elderly are common. This lack of blood supply is also the reason why a shoulder injury can take quite a lot of time to heal.

The second cause of most shoulder injuries is due to excessive force, or simply putting too much strain on the tendons of the shoulder muscles. This usually occurs when you try to lift something that is too heavy or when a force is applied to the arm while it's in an unusual or awkward position.

Symptoms

There are two common symptoms of a shoulder injury, pain and weakness. Pain is not always felt when a shoulder injury occurs, however most people who do feel pain, report that it's a very vague pain which can be hard to pinpoint.

Weakness, on the other hand, seems to be the most reliable symptom of a shoulder injury. Common complaints include an inability to raise your arm above your head or to extend your arm directly to the side or in front. In most cases, the larger the tear or damage to the tendons, the harder it is to move your arm and the injured area.


What Our Clients Say

"Amazing! After so many other failed visits to consultants, with Ross, I'm now pain free. I only wish I knew of him years ago. He explained the reasons behind my injury, how I was to be treated, the healing process and how to avoid future injury. I'd recommend him to anybody." - Mr. Castle

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"After suffering from lower back pain for many years, I thought I should get something done about it. I was recommended to see Ross, Unsure at the time about seeing a Sports Injury Specialist, as my complaint was defiantly not a sporting injury! I thought recommendation is a strong piece of advice so I went to see Ross, What a good move. He explained that just because the injury was not sustained during sport the diagnosing and treatment is still the same. He subsequently got straight to the site of pain, with an in depth examination and a clear diagnosis, the treatment was very successful. I am now able to sit at my desk at work pain free." Miss. Chappel