Frozen Shoulder

The bones in the shoulder are held in place by a muscle group called the rotator cuff muscles, made up of four separate muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. This muscle group enable the shoulder joint to carry out very specific and exact movements. The shoulder joint has a fairly shallow socket and limited ligament strength, which means that if the rotator cuff muscles are in any way weakened the shoulder can slide around in the joint.

What causes frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is common in individuals who play sports such as tennis and volleyball, or those who take part in weight training. If the shoulder joint and the surrounding muscles are over-worked while the arm is in an overhead position the rotator cuff muscles may begin to stretch and cause pain. This joint pain shares many symptoms with arthritis and is caused by the inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder – it is this injury that is commonly referred to as frozen shoulder.

What is the treatment for frozen shoulder?

Often the course of treatment for frozen shoulder addresses the pain and discomfort inherent in the injury without treating the cause of the problem itself. Pain is treated with anti-inflammatory medication and often cortisone injections, however both these treatments do wear off and the injury can recur when the tendons and muscles are next stretched.

What other options are there?

A programme of exercises can help to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles which hold the shoulder joint in place. These exercises would aim to increase muscle strength to prevent the joint sliding around as much in the socket, which could reduce the inflammation of the tendons and subsequent pain.

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