If you’ve noticed things like putting on a shirt or reaching for an item above your head becoming more difficult, you may be experiencing a frozen shoulder. The clinical name for the condition is adhesive capsulitis, and nobody is certain why it happens. But what we do know is that the pain and stiffness from a frozen shoulder can keep you from being as active as you would like. The good news is that Pain Specialists of Austin and Central Texas Pain Center can treat your frozen shoulder and start getting your life back to normal.
What Causes Shoulder Pain?
The shoulder joint capsule is a collection of ligaments that attaches you shoulder to the rest of your arm. When these ligaments get stiff or swollen, pain will follow. Shoulder pain is one of the most common injuries, and almost everyone will experience problems from their shoulders at some point during their life. Arthritis, a dislocated joint, pinched nerves, fractures, a “frozen shoulder” and overuse can all cause shoulder pain.
The most common type of arthritis for shoulder pain is known as osteoarthritis. It is caused by physical activity that wears and tears at the shoulder joint. Osteoarthritis can be diagnosed by seeing a lack of cartilage in the joint. When cartilage breaks down, it can lead to swelling, pain, and stiffness in a joint.
Another type of arthritis that can impact your shoulders is known as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an autoimmune disease (a condition where your body’s immune system attacks your body itself.) RA can cause chronic inflammation that can lead to pain.
The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint. When the ball pops out from the socket, this is known as dislocation. Because of the shoulder’s mobility, it is a common joint for dislocation. Properly resetting a dislocated shoulder is best left to medical professionals. In most cases, full range of motion and mobility will return in a matter of weeks. But once a dislocation has happened, it is more likely to happen again.
A pinched nerve happens when an excessive amount of pressure is put onto a nerve from the surrounding tissue. Given the mobility of the shoulder joint, it’s not uncommon to have shoulder pain that results from a nerve pinch. You may not feel pain from a pinched nerve, as the condition can cause numbness, weakness, or tingling instead. In many cases the nerve will work its way out of the pinch. But if your symptoms last for a prolonged period of time, it’s best to seek medical help.
A fractured (broken) shoulder can cause severe pain and lack of mobility. In some cases, your doctor may recommend medical interventions such as a sling, medication, and rest. But in other cases surgery may be the best answer. Pain after surgery is not uncommon, and can be treated quite easily by our Pain Specialists.
Frozen shoulder syndrome gets its name from the symptoms that most people experience. It is one of the most common types of chronic (long-term) shoulder pains, lasting months if not years. The first part of the symptoms are often the worst — shoulder pain that gets worse with movement, and especially movement overhead or when grabbing something far in front of you.
The next part of the symptoms are where the name comes into play. While the pain might decrease, the stiffness and mobility problems continue to get worse. Often times we see patients go through the painful first symptoms, only to avoid seeking help because the pain starts to go away. But they come to see us with impaired mobility and decreased quality of life.
In time it’s not uncommon for a frozen shoulder to “thaw”, returning to less pain and improved range of motion. But this often takes months if not years of needless suffering, pain, and frustration.
It’s hard to say exactly why someone ends up suffering from a frozen shoulder, but we do know that there are factors that make the condition more likely. Arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, injuries, and thyroid problems are often present in people who experience frozen shoulder pain.
The path to getting your mobility back starts with a thorough examination in one of our many locations across central Texas. We’re allied against pain with you, and our team has treated many different frozen shoulder cases with outstanding results.