Stiffness in the shoulder associated with limited mobility and pain as a result of an injury to the shoulder, is called as frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis. Under frozen shoulder, the tissues adjoining the joint turn stiff, shoulder movements become very painful and difficult, and there is also a scar tissue formation.
Frozen shoulder is the result of swelling and thickening of the capsule (the sleeve area surrounding the shoulder joint) of the shoulder. The condition develops quite slowly, and even improves slowly over the duration of many months or more.
Important Causes Of Frozen Shoulder
There could be several reasons for frozen shoulder to happen. The shoulder is actually a ball and socket kind of a joint, where the end of the humerus bone (upper arm) is positioned in the socket of the scapula (shoulder blade). The shoulder capsule gets stretched fully, on raising the arms to maximum and hang down as a pouch, when the arm is put straight down. The scar tissue bands swells the capsule, thereby leaving less space for the upper arm movement, thereby restricting mobility of the shoulder joint and inturn the arm.
Limited Use Of Shoulders
When shoulder joint is not being used majorily over many days, it could lead to frozen shoulders. It could be the result of an injury, pain or some chronic muscle problem or disease like arthritis or diabetes. These health conditions deprive full range of activities of shoulder, thereby leading to frozen shoulder joint.
Frozen shoulder is more prevalent in people between 40 to 70 years of age, but more commonly seen in women than men. It could be due to sudden lift of heavy materials or overuse of one shoulder over a certain period, or due to twisting movement of the shoulder joint, during sleep. The condition may also appear in other shoulder within five years, in 20% of elderly people, once it is initiated in one of the shoulders.
Frozen shoulder occurs for 70% times in women and it could be mainly due to hormonal imbalances in women, majorily during menopause phase. Japanese women are known to be the most suffered ones due to frozen shoulder as it appears as the most common symptoms of menopause in them. Many incidences are increasingly observed in countries like Australia, Canada, US and other western countries too.
The increased occurrence of frozen shoulders in diabetics may be due to high amount of glucose molecules that stick to collagen fibers of the shoulder joint capsule, causing stiffness. Other chronic ailments like Parkinson’s, underactive or overactive thyroid, stroke, breast cancer, lung disorder, stroke and dupuytren’s contracture (formation of small lumps in hand) may also lead to frozen shoulders.
Certain shoulder problems like calcific tendonitis (calcium deposition in shoulder tendons) and rotator cuff tear (tear of muscles controlling shoulder movements) may also lead to frozen shoulder.Other than above causes, even the bad posture, especially pertaining to shoulders can lead to shortening of shoulder ligaments, contributing to frozen shoulder.
Those individuals, who have undergone a surgery or had used a sling for supporting shoulder for long, post an injury or fracture, are highly likely to show frozen shoulder.
This is due to long term immobility of shoulder, during recovery that tightens up the capsule leading to frozen state. Hence, it is very essential to seek medical attention after a painful shoulder injury and never just ignore it.
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