Are you suffering from chronic shoulder pain and stiffness? Does your shoulder often “freeze” leaving you unable to move the shoulder joint. You could be suffering from a condition known as adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder.) This article will discuss frozen shoulder and the treatment options available to help alleviate the pain, and get individuals back to their normal health active lifestyle. Frozen shoulder injuries can be very frustrating for the patient, but minimally invasive treatment options are available at Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine in Watchung, NJ.

What is “Frozen Shoulder”?

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), is a type of injury that restricts the range of motion causing pain in the shoulder joint. The exact mechanism of a frozen shoulder is not well known, but many indcarpenterividuals are susceptible to this condition. Surrounding the shoulder is a joint capsule that encloses the shoulder joint. In frozen shoulder cases the capsule develops adhesions and tightens, which can lead to scar tissue formation. Shoulder trauma and prior shoulder surgeries are risk factors for developing frozen shoulder due to prolonged shoulder immobilization. Frozen shoulder will occur in three different stages. The first stage is known as the “freezing stage” where any movement increases pain with limited range of motion. The next stage is the “frozen stage”; this is where pain levels decrease because the shoulder begins to stiffen. The final stage is the “thawing stage”: in this stage the shoulder will begin to loosen up and ra
nge of motion slowly improves. Often in frozen shoulder cases individuals will experience pain at night that may cause difficulty sleeping.

Causes of “Frozen Shoulder”

Frozen shoulder can occur when the joint capsule develops scar tissue and begins to thicken. This leads to tightness and limited range of motion throughout the shoulder joint, which in turn leads to
pain. Clinicians are unsure as to why this affects certain individuals but find it is usually prevalent in post surgical cases and or when there has been direct shoulder trauma. Physical examination and diagnostic ultrasound imaging help aid in the clinical diagnosis. The majority of cases of frozen shoulder occur in older populations and are more common in females.

Conventional Treatments

Most cases involving the shoulder capsule will respond well to conventional non-surgical treatments if action is taken in a timely manner. Frozen shoulder injuries typically respond very well to these treatments.  Over the counter pain relievers and good course of shoulder manipulation and physical therapy will aid in pain reduction and inflammation.  Physical therapists will work on range of motion exercises in order to help improve shoulder mobility and break up capsular adhesions.

Chronic or long term frozen shoulder cases may need further intervention, typically this will consist of steroidal injections, and/or joint distention. At Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine we incorporate regenerative medicine therapy in order to strengthen, stabilize and repair dysfunctional shoulder capsules.  The patient who does not respond well to conservative treatment options may be a candidate for regenerative medicine therapy, more specifically – prolotherapy.  Prolotherapy is a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical treatment solution that has provided great results.

For stubborn frozen shoulder cases that do not respond well to conservative treatments options, prolotherapy may be the “next level” of non-surgical solutions. Recent studies have demonstrated the use of prolotherapy as a safe and effective non-pharmaceutical option to help alleviate frozen shoulder. Prolotherapy is a procedure in which dextrose solution is injected into the joint capsule in order to break up adhesions, freeing up the shoulder capsule. This will aid in stability and flexibility, restoring non-painful range of motion back into the shoulder joint.  A stable and flexible joint is the precursor to a healthy joint, especially in active individuals.

At Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine, we believe that prolotherapy injections can be a major step toward recovery in chronic frozen shoulder injuries, utilizing the bodies’ natural ability to heal itself.

Regenerative medicine therapy and prolotherapy have been proven as safe and effective treatment options for patients suffering from frozen shoulder. If you find yourself struggling with this type of shoulder injury please feel free to contact one of our patient care coordinators at 908-754-1960 or you may contact us online.

About the Authors:

Joseph Mejia D.O., F.A.A.P.M.& R, is a graduate of University of Michigan and West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He is Board Certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine. Dr. Mejia received his Fellowship Training in Interventional Pain Management from University of Medicine and Dentistry. He has advanced training in Regenerative Medicine and is the Medical Director and Partner of Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine.

Vincent J. Diana D.C. Is a graduate of New York Chiropractic College. He is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician with licenses held in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Dr. Diana is a Chiropractic Physician at Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine.