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Frozen Shoulder – Diagnosis and Treatment

shoulder joint severe pain

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a common condition which can cause pain and lack of mobility in your shoulder. If you’re experiencing shoulder painwith limited range of motion, then it’s possible you have a frozen shoulder.

The shoulder joint (glenohumeral or GH joint) is made up of bones, cartilage, muscles (including the rotator-cuff), and ligaments. It is known as a “ball and socket” joint giving the shoulder excellent range of motion. This allows you to make such movements as swimming, throwing a baseball, or itching your back.

A frozen shoulder is exactly what it sounds like – your shoulder gets stiff and feels like it’s stuck! This happens when the soft tissue around your shoulder joint (the capsule) becomes thick and inflamed.

You are at increased risk of getting adhesive capsulitis if you are:

  • Diabetic
  • Suffering from thyroid disorders
  • Aged 40-60, particularly women
  • Recovering from surgery – particularly if you must wear a sling or hold your arm still
shoulder joint severe pain

Do I Have a Frozen Shoulder?

If your shoulder has been getting progressively more stiff and difficult to move, it’s possible you have a frozen shoulder. There are other conditions that cause similar symptoms, so it’s important that you visit your physician to get your shoulder evaluated. 

Diagnosis will require a physical examination and tests such as an X-ray or MRI to make sure there isn’t another cause of your pain and stiffness. You may have a frozen shoulder if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in your arm when you try to move it
  • Stiffness that’s getting worse over time (sometimes over months)
  • Discomfort that gets worse at night
  • Struggling to do everyday tasks such as dress yourself

When your shoulder starts to hurt, you end up trying to move it less to avoid the pain. This actually makes the stiffness worse!

An orthopedic surgeon can help get you the right diagnosis and start you on the path to recovery. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms you should book a consultation as soon as possible.

Frozen Shoulder can give you pain and stiffness

How is Frozen Shoulder Treated?

You might be asking yourself, “How do I cure frozen shoulder quickly?” A frozen shoulder can last years if it goes untreated – the quickest way is to seek the expertise from an orthopedic surgeon and start your treatment as soon as possible.

In the first stages your pain may start to ease up, but the stiffness will slowly worsen. Before you visit an orthopedic surgeon, you should continue to use your arm but avoid movements which worsen the pain. You can try taking pain relief and placing hot packs onto the affected shoulder.

After diagnosis your treatment plan might include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Home exercises
  • Cortisone injection
  • Shoulder Surgery (rarely)

If you don’t get the right treatment for your frozen shoulder, the pain and stiffness can last up to three years! There are several frozen shoulder exercises that might help, though it’s best to do these under supervision of a physical therapist or orthopedic surgeon.

With the right treatment plan, you can cut recovery time dramatically – though it can still be months before you regain full function.

The right treatment approach differs depending on your age, extent of injury, and what your goals are for your recovery. That is why it is vital to find an orthopedic surgeon who listens to you and creates a holistic treatment plan to suit your priorities. Dr. Pamela Mehta, an orthopedic surgeon based in San Jose, CA, can help you determine the best treatment option for your frozen shoulder.

Testimonials

Hela M.
San Francisco, CA
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I am writing this review for my parents. I had heard about Dr. Mehta l, so I wanted them to try her out as they were having some knee and shoulder issues. I'm so glad we found her! She is great. She is caring, knowledgeable and really put my parents at ease. She helped my mom out with her knee and shoulder with cortisone injections. She reassured my dad that he had a minor injury and didn't need to have an MRI. I really appreciated that she didn't make them do unnecessary imaging just to rack up the bill. If your parents need to see an orthopedic surgeon or if you have an injury I would highly recommend Dr. Mehta.
Mark M
Google Review
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Dr. Mehta has now treated me for three very different and separate injuries and in each instance has demonstrated competence, compassion, and professionalism. In all three cases she was thorough and regularly contacted me after the initial treatment to ensure I was recovering and healing properly. Her dedication to helping me return to my very active lifestyle was very much appreciated!
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How Resilience Orthopedics Can Help

pamela mehta scrubs headshot

Dr. Pamela Mehta, MD – Orthopedic Surgeon in San Jose, California

Dr. Pamela Mehta is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and a specialist in sports injuries including frozen shoulder care. Dr. Mehta offers expert care as a shoulder surgeon and is passionate about her patients. Dr. Mehta will explain your condition to you, work with you to create a personalized treatment plan, and make sure your aftercare goes smoothly.

Resilience Orthopedics is based San Jose, California. To make sure you get the right diagnosis and treatment the first time, get in touch to begin your journey to recovery.