Diagnosing Frozen Shoulder
To help your doctor or orthopedic surgeon achieve a proper diagnosis, he/she will begin with a medical history about you, your current condition and symptoms. He/she will inquire about the intensity of your present pain, the duration of your symptoms and the limitations you are experiencing. Details about what instigated the problem, when it started, and whether or not you have ever had treatments for this or a similar condition in the past, are very helpful in assessing your injury.
A physical examination will be performed to determine if you have any signs of frozen shoulder or other shoulder injury. Your doctor will visually assess and press on the bones and soft tissue in both your shoulders to evaluate sameness (symmetry) and recognize differences. This will identify any abnormalities, such as mild or severe inflammation, tenderness, fluid, bone or tissue deformity, weakened muscles, redness and/or warmth on the skin. He/she may ask you to complete a series of arm movements, such as raising your arms to the front, back and side, to measure your range of motion and see what causes pain and tightness. Some of these will be performed by you and others will be performed by the doctor. Generally you will not be able to move your arm in any direction at all (or just slightly) if you have frozen shoulder - whether you try to move it or your doctor tries to move it. If you have movement when your doctor moves your arm, you may be tested for other shoulder conditions.
Most Common Shoulder Diagnostic Tests
Diagnostic tests will often help to obtain more detailed information about your shoulder condition.
X-rays provide an image of the overall structure of the shoulder, and are helpful in identifying abnormal bone shapes and/or spurs, arthritis, or calcific tendonitis.
Arthrogram contrasts are special x-rays that show details of the shoulder capsule, such as a decrease in size (in a normal shoulder the capsule is rounded, but in a frozen shoulder the capsule is squat, square and contracted).
MRIs or CT scans will provide more detailed information and will help to evaluate soft tissue (muscle, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue) injuries such as fluid in the shoulder, tendonitis and/or tears.
Blood testing can be done if the doctor suspects the primary reason for your frozen shoulder is a result of a systemic disorder
Range of Motion Diagnosis
There are several range of motion movements that can help diagnose adhesive capsulitis. Your doctor may ask you to:
- raise both your hands straight up in the air towards the ceiling.
- reach across your chest to touch the opposite shoulder.
- reach behind you and put your back of your hand against the lower back.
- reach your hand up towards your shoulder blade.
If there is limited range of motion for one or more of these movements, your doctor will probably recommend further diagnostic testing.
Your doctor may ask for an x-ray to look for fractures, a loss of joint space in the shoulder, bone spurs or calcification in the tendon. He or she may do an MRI to be able to see the soft tissue in your shoulder. This will give a clear picture of the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the shoulder, and will allow him or her to assess any damage. This assessment will determine the treatment options available to you. Treatment options will likely include Physical Therapy, stretching and targeted exercises, and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®).
Treating Your Frozen Shoulder
If you heal your frozen shoulder properly, your chance of recurrance or chronic shoulder conditions later on is greatly reduced. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ will promote blood flow to heal your labrum, ligaments, and tendons in the rotator cuff and glenohumeral joint faster and more completely than any other methods available.
Freezie Wrap® Cold Compression Therapy
To decrease inflammation and relieve the pain of frozen shoulder doctor's recommend cold compression therapy. Treating your shoulder pain with cold compression as needed will relieve pain and will reduce, or even eliminate, the need for pain medication that affects your entire body and can cause problems is used for a long period of time.
The Shoulder Freezie Wrap® is the cold compression tool you need to treat your frozen shoulder pain in an effective and convenient way.
The deep cooling effect provided by the Shoulder Freezie Wrap® gently numbs your nerves to reduce pain naturally!
The Shoulder Freezie Wrap® uses a supercharged cooling gel pack, that chills in the fridge, not in the freezer like ice or other freezer packs, giving you deep cold therapy without the risk of 'cold burns' or cryoburn. The medical-grade wrap keeps the cold directly off your skin preventing cryoburn while delivering cold right where you need it.
Once the pain of your frozen shoulder has been reduced it is important to begin BFST® to improve elasticity and loosen up the area. BFST® will improve blood flow and relax muscles that have become stiff and tense because you are not using your shoulder properly.
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ BFST® nourishes and strengthenes your shoulder joint tissue and surrounding area. Using BFST® will speed your recovery and heal your rotator cuff more completely preparing it for strengthening exercises. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to find out which exercises are appropriate for your situation.
Inferno Wrap® Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™
The shoulder joint naturally receives a limited blood supply. When it's stiff and difficult to move the blood flow is reduced even further, limiting your body's natural ability to heal itself.
By treating your rotator cuff with BFST® you can increase your body's blood supply to the shoulder and increase your body's natural healing power.
An Inferno Wrap® for your shoulder is the tool you need to treat your sore shoulder because it speeds healing and relaxes the surrounding muscles. With BFST®, tissues are safely and gently stimulated. Your body responds with a rapid increase in blood flow to the area, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to injured tissue to promote healing. Our Inferno Wrap® gives you the most effective, non-invasive, non-addictive, pain relief and healing with no side effect.
In addition, the improved blood flow whisks away dead cells and toxins that have built up from injury, scar tissue, and lack of blood flow. When you stop moving your arm and shoulder, your muscles and other tissue can become weak and dead cells and toxins in the area can cause further tissue deterioration - this can lead to atrophy (muscle weakness and/or deterioration). By clearing the area of toxins and increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to your muscle and other tissue, the risk of atrophy is greatly reduced. Keeping your upper arm, shoulder and rotator cuff tissue as healthy as possible throughout the healing process will allow you to improve shoulder strength again once your pain has gone and your tear has healed.
With these easy-to-use, home therapies, cold compression and BFST®, you will notice significantly reduced pain, faster healing, and an incredible improvement in your rotator cuff range of motion.
During your recovery, you may have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your rotator cuff area until your pain and inflammation settle, and you gain more mobility and strength in your shoulder. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!
Surgical Procedures for Frozen Shoulder
Manipulation Under Anesthesia
In rare cases, if the usual treatment options have been unsuccessful, manipulation under anesthesia may be required. Athough this procedure requires anesthesia, no actual surgery involved, meaning incisions are not made when a manipulation is performed. The doctor moves the arm to break up the scar tissue within and surrounding the joint. This is a painful procedure as it requires tearing of the scar tissue, but you will be able to move your shoulder joint more after the manipulation.
Follow up the manipulation with cold compression therapy immediately. Continue with cold compression until the pain and inflammation has been reduced. Once inflammation, swelling, and bruising has been calmed you can begin BFST® treatments to maintain healthy tissue in your arm and shoulder, reduce the risk of atrophy, and improve the health of the tendons and ligaments that have been damaged during the manipulation procedure.
Arthroscopic Capsular Release
Alternatively, or in conjunction with a manipulation, an arthroscope can be inserted into the joint to cut through the scar tissue. This procedure is called an arthroscopic capsular release. Surgical capsular release of a frozen shoulder is rarely necessary, but it is extremely useful in cases of frozen shoulder that do not respond to physical therapy or regular exercises done at home. If surgery is performed, immediate physical therapy following the capsular release is of utmost importance. If rehabilitation does not begin soon after arthroscopic capsular release, the chance of the frozen shoulder returning is quite high.
Please be aware that this information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.