Frozen shoulder, medically known as adhesive capsulitis, is a common and painful condition that affects the shoulder joint, limiting its range of motion and causing significant discomfort. This condition typically progresses through three stages: freezing, frozen, and thawing, each presenting unique challenges in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Although the exact cause of frozen shoulder remains unclear, evidence-based approaches have shown promising results in managing the symptoms and improving patients' quality of life.
Physical therapy and exercise therapy are the cornerstone of non-surgical management for frozen shoulder. Evidence suggests that a structured rehabilitation programme can significantly improve shoulder function and reduce pain. Therapeutic exercises, such as pendulum exercises, range of motion exercises, and stretching, play a crucial role in maintaining joint flexibility and preventing further stiffness. The progressive increase in exercise intensity should be guided by a physical therapist to ensure safety and efficacy.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are commonly prescribed to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation associated with frozen shoulder. However, the evidence supporting their long-term effectiveness is limited, and their use should be monitored, considering potential side effects, particularly on the gastrointestinal system and kidneys. NSAIDs can be used in the early stages of frozen shoulder to manage pain while other treatments take effect.
Intra-articular corticosteroid injections have shown promising short-term pain relief and improvement in shoulder mobility. These injections work by reducing inflammation within the affected joint. Studies suggest that a targeted corticosteroid injection can provide significant pain relief, particularly in the freezing phase of frozen shoulder. However, they are not recommended as a standalone treatment and should be combined with physical therapy to achieve optimal outcomes.
Frozen shoulder can be a debilitating and painful condition, significantly impacting a patient's daily life. Evidence-based treatments focus on a combination of physical therapy, exercises, and anti-inflammatory medications for managing the symptoms and improving shoulder function. In cases where conservative treatments prove ineffective, surgical interventions like arthroscopic capsular release and manipulation under anaesthesia offer promising outcomes. Patients suffering from frozen shoulder should seek early diagnosis and personalised treatment plans, considering their individual medical history and severity of the condition to achieve the best possible outcome.