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Frozen Shoulder: A distracting Issue Caused by Playing Sports

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Symptoms of a frozen shoulder include being unable to lift the shoulder, experiencing problems with shoulder movement, as well as having difficulty dressing and reaching up high.
  • The most effective treatment for a frozen shoulder is medication that can regulate the symptoms of any underlying medical condition, so that shoulder use returns to normal. If these courses of treatments are ineffective, the next option is arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

 

Frozen Shoulder

Shoulder conditions can affect anyone of any age and gender. They may be the result of an accident or something completely unrelated. One of these conditions is referred to as a frozen shoulder, an issue that causes the patient to experience difficulty in shoulder movement and that can lead to a reduction in shoulder use.

Patients with this condition may also be unable to lift their arm fully or hold it out when fully extended. As a result, athletes who suffer from this condition will have their sports performance significantly limited. The condition may be caused by issues related to thyroid toxicity or immunodeficiencies, such as rheumatoid arthritis, SLE arthritis and diabetes. Injuries may also play a part, especially in sports that require extensive use of the muscles in the arms and shoulders, like tennis and golf.

Symptoms

Patients usually seek medical attention once they are unable to lift their arms or when they are experiencing difficulty in moving the shoulder. They may be having problems when dressing or when reaching up, to the side or behind, and they are struggling to partake in sports, such as volleyball, basketball, swimming, gymnastics or yoga. Patients could also experience pain when carrying out any of these activities — or even in the middle of the night when turning over from one side to the other.

The condition is categorized into the following 3 stages:

  1. The aching stage: Patients may feel an aching sensation in their shoulder throughout day and night. It could come without warning or any movement of the affected shoulder. Sleeping on the side of the aching shoulder may also be difficult, meaning that some patients struggle to get a full night’s sleep. At this stage, patients usually hold their arms into their bodies and use their shoulders as little as possible in order to reduce the pain and tension felt by the muscle tissue around the shoulder. This stage lasts for 2–9 months.
  2. The frozen stage (inability to lift the arm at the shoulder): The aches and pains recede somewhat and may only be present during the night. However, the shoulder becomes stuck, and shoulder movement becomes difficult. The shoulder’s range of movement increases and decreases continuously, until it reaches a point at which the shoulder can freeze at any time in any position. Movements become impossible that require the use of the shoulder, such as scratching the head or back, washing hair and dressing. This stage lasts for 3–12 months.
  3. The relief stage: Also called the “thawing” stage, the symptoms that the patients suffer from might not show. The range of motion in the shoulder stabilizes and might somewhat improve. Pain may fade but occasionally recur, yet the risk of the shoulder freezing remains throughout this third stage which lasts for 12–24 months.

Treatment

Treatment is dependent on the type of frozen shoulder being experienced, for example, diabetics or thyroid deficiency sufferers will be required to medicate their underlying health condition. Alternately, patients who have suffered a bone fracture will require surgery to repair the affected bone as the first course of action, before taking anti-inflammatory medication and undergoing physical therapy or strength-conditioning for the affected shoulder.

If all these treatments are ineffective, the doctor will proceed with a progressive, modern treatment known as arthroscopic shoulder surgery. This technique is currently playing a huge role in the field of surgery, both at home and abroad, due to benefits that include minimal pain, scarring and blood loss, as well as fast recovery times and a reduced risk of post-surgery complications.

Patients are able to return to their daily lives shortly after this type of surgery which can be used to treat all causes of frozen shoulder. This reduces stress and torment for patients suffering from the condition, and improves the state of their shoulder to the extent that it may be used as normal again. With all these benefits, arthroscopic shoulder surgery can help patients make a full recovery and improve their quality of life.


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Werayut Chayapinun, M.D. Summary: Orthopedics Orthopedics