Treatment for frozen shoulder aims to manage the pain and restore movement and strength in the shoulder joint.
Non-surgical options include:
Hot and cold compresses
Applying a hot or cold compress several times a day can help to reduce mild pain and discomfort.
Medications to relieve pain and/or inflammation
Over-the-counter or prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to relieve pain and inflammation of the shoulder joint. Follow your doctor’s instructions on how and when to take these medications.
This involves injecting a large volume of sterile fluid into the shoulder joint, to expand and stretch the shoulder joint capsule.
A corticosteroid such as cortisone can be injected directly into the joint to relieve severe pain and swelling.
Physiotherapy and home-based exercises
A physiotherapist can advise you on suitable exercises to improve your range of motion, which you can also practice at home. This may include exercises such as an external rotation passive stretch, a forward flexion in supine position and crossover arm stretch.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a treatment method using low-voltage electrical currents to relieve pain. This electrical impulse is delivered using a small, battery-powered device, through electrodes placed at the shoulder joint.
Surgical options include:
Manipulation under anaesthesia
During this procedure, you will remain unconscious while the doctor forces your shoulder to move past its limited range. This will involve stretching or even tearing the tissues of the joint capsule to release the tightness and increase your range of motion.
In a shoulder arthroscopy, incisions will be made around your shoulder. This will allow your doctor to insert small surgical tools which will be used to cut through the tight tissues of the joint capsule. This is called a capsular release.
If surgery is performed, recovery time can very from 6 weeks to 3 months. Physiotherapy will be necessary to maintain and improve your range of motion. Long-term outcomes are generally good, with most patients having reduced pain and better range of motion.
If you have frozen shoulder that is affecting your daily activities, it is advisable to seek medical advice for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
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