Stalled by a frozen shoulder

Healthwise

Stalled by a frozen shoulder

With the amount of work one has to do on a daily basis, our two arms literally hold up the world for us. Now what if one of them just freezes, that is, one of your shoulders becomes so stiff that even moving it slightly becomes a source of excruciating pain? This torturous condition, called Frozen shoulder or Adhesive capsulitis, is seizing the lives of more and more people these days.

Often, our shoulder suffers an injury say due to a hard door slam, a fall or a dog pull but we ignore it thinking that it will heal on its own. Heal it does but by creating another problem. With an injured shoulder, you decide to not move it aggressively for a while, but a shoulder at rest for a long time becomes stiffer. When it turns more stiff, you can’t move it at all and ultimately it becomes a shoulder completely frozen.
Dr Mahesh Reddy, senior orthopaedic surgeon and director, Nova Specialty Surgery, says, “Every muscle of the body needs to be exercised to be kept functional. It’s simple. When you move a muscle, blood rushes into it to make it warm and facilitate the movement. However, when you don’t exercise it, it becomes cold and stiff. When not used for long, there’s a real danger that it becomes frozen.”

“For some unknown reason, women develop a frozen shoulder twice as much as men. The bulk of our cases these days form diabetics who in fact add up to 20 per cent of frozen shoulder cases worldwide. Though this is also not fully explained, one theory says that glucose molecules in a diabetic attach themselves to collagen – the protein fibre that holds the bones. As a result, there is a build up and the shoulder stiffens.”
Once you develop a frozen shoulder, it does not go away easily. There are at least four stages involved. First, you experience stiffness in your shoulder (it affects only one at a time) with mild pain, then both the stiffness and pain increase tremendously, in the third phase the pain eases but stiffness remains and lastly both go away. This whole process can last anywhere between eight months to
two years!

Dr Biren Nadkarni, senior orthopaedic, Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research, says, “We call this a self-limiting condition. It heals on its own with time. When the pain gets intolerable, try painkillers and heating the area, though that is not enough. Continuous exercising of the shoulder, as far as possible, is necessary.”
“In extreme cases, we do a key hole surgery to release the tendons but if taken care of, a frozen shoulder does not require surgical intervention. Keep yourself, especially your shoulder active, and you’ll never suffer a frozen
shoulder.”

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