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Have I really got a frozen shoulder?

Far too often we see patients in the clinic with an incorrect diagnosis of frozen shoulder. It is an easy label for shoulder pain and is the first go to for many GPs including Dr Google himself. However, there is good evidence to suggest early diagnosis of a frozen shoulder treated with an intraarticular injection can help reduce pain and improve function before allowing the condition to ‘set in’. What we must always be reassured by is that ultimately a frozen shoulder will improve and, in most cases, return to normal – however this is a lengthy process. Hence getting an early diagnosis and the correct management quickly is important to avoid many, many months of restricted shoulder movement.

So how do we diagnose a frozen shoulder before it freezes? Classically we look for a restriction pattern in your movements around the shoulder, predominantly the rotational movements and abduction (arm out to the side). However, if our movements fit this classic frozen shoulder pattern our intraarticular injection is going to have less impact on our pathology as it has been allowed to progress further.

Jo Gibson (@shouldergeek1) a specialist in shoulder complaints has come up with some signs and symptoms as clinicians we can look out for before your shoulder stiffness develops. There are many factors we as Physiotherapists look for just through questioning. Are you between 45-55 years of age? Have you any comorbidities – especially diabetes? Where is your pain? How did your pain come about? Do you have night pain and is it easy to get comfortable?

If this leads to suspicion an xray would usually be requested (which we would expect to be normal – rules out other conditions such as osteoarthritis) and a follow up appointment made. Should your movement continue to regress we would then refer you to a specialist for an injection before the pathology progresses further.

Should we diagnose you with another form of shoulder pain, such as a tendinopathy then we will be happy to help loosen up that shoulder, settle down the pain and load up those tendons with a specific exercise regime. Or post injection should you want to get that movement going we have a whole range of manual therapy techniques to help you on your way.

So, book now to get the right diagnosis so your pain and restriction can be managed quickly and effectively before it ‘freezes’! Call 01371 700466 or email info@shepherdsphysiotherapy.co.uk.

frozen shoulder treatment

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