How do I Treat Frozen Shoulder Pain?

K. Gierok

Frozen shoulder pain, also called adhesive capsulitis, is not a life-threatening condition, though it can cause serious limitations when it comes to everyday activities. Activities as simple as brushing one's hair can be almost impossible for a person affected by frozen shoulder pain. Some of the most common treatment methods of this condition include taking oral pain medications, undergoing physical therapy, receiving cortisone injections, and in rare cases, surgery. Treatment options are best discussed with a physician who has experience with such conditions or a specialist, such as an orthopedist.

A syringe for a cortisone injection, which can help with a frozen shoulder.
A syringe for a cortisone injection, which can help with a frozen shoulder.

One of the most effective and easiest ways to treat frozen shoulder pain is by using oral medications that are designed to decrease shoulder pain. There are over-the-counter medication options, such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other similar products, that can be used to relieve pain and discomfort. Typically, these medications are taken regularly for two to three days in order to monitor the results. If individuals who suffer from frozen shoulder pain do not experience relief by using these treatments, a primary care physician should be contacted. He or she may be able to provide a prescription painkiller that may be more effective.

Oral medications may help treat frozen shoulder pain.
Oral medications may help treat frozen shoulder pain.

Physical therapy also is a common treatment option for individuals who are suffering from frozen shoulder pain. Physical therapists can not only perform stretches on affected individuals to increase range of motion, but can also use ice, and heat to make movement of this area easier. In addition, physical therapists can often suggest exercises that can be done at home in order to prevent further occurrences of frozen shoulder pain.

Receiving cortisone injections are another effective option for the treatment of frozen shoulder pain. This typically is considered a more invasive procedure, and therefore should be attempted only if the other less invasive techniques fail to bring relief. Cortisone injections typically are targeted directly over the affected area in order to reduce the inflammations associated with frozen shoulder pain. Cortisone injections typically prove most effective when they are performed in conjunction with physical therapy.

In rare circumstance in which therapy and other treatment fail to work, surgery may be considered. Typically, individuals suffering from frozen shoulder pain will undergo a procedure in which tissue in the affected area is stretched to increase the joints mobility. Surgery also might involve the removal of scar tissue from the affected joint; surgeons also may perform physical manipulation while a patient is anesthetized to move and stretch the shoulder to increase the range of motion.

Undergoing physical therapy is one of the more common treatments for treating frozen shoulder pain.
Undergoing physical therapy is one of the more common treatments for treating frozen shoulder pain.

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