Rare in young people, frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis to give it its full medial name, is characterized by pain and stiffness in the joint, which reduces normal movement of the arm.
Frozen shoulder typically affects one side, though in about 20% of cases it can spread to the other side. It is most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60, and will usually last for two to three years.
As for cause, it's not entirely clear why it occurs. It can be related to a minor injury, while at other times it follows another illness, such as bronchitis, angina or a stroke. There is also some evidence for a link to diabetes.
Treatments focus on increasing mobility and reducing the pain, though the recovery process is very slow.
- Exercise under the supervision of a physiotherapist
- NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) such as ibuprofen
- Regular painkillers (analgesics)
- Ice packs and heat treatments - these can reduce pain and increase blood flow to the area.
- Steroid injections into the joint
- Manipulation by a physiotherapist or osteopath