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Adhesive Capsulitis, or Frozen Shoulder, is an immobilizing and painful condition attacking the shoulder joint and surrounding ligaments. As the name implies, this ailment essentially restricts all movement of the afflicted shoulder causing the joint, for all intents and purposes, to freeze. It more often assails females over the age of forty.
In a healthy shoulder, ligaments surround the joint and work to hold the shoulder bones together. When a person develops Frozen Shoulder, the joint capsule or protective covering becomes inflamed. This "Capsule-itis" results in painful swelling and leads to a stricture of the ligaments and acts as an adhesion or scar-like tissue bonding that stiffens the joint. This resulting stiffness freezes the shoulder bones in place making movement painful and extremely limited.
Causes for this disease are largely unknown, researchers with the Mayo Clinic and National Institute of Health suggest an association with cardiovascular disease, poor circulation, diabetes and insufficient thyroid functioning--either too high (hyperthyroidism) or too low (hypothyroidism). Researchers also agree that the primary precipitating factor is reduced mobility. Ailments such as a stroke, post-surgical immobilization, rotator cuff injury or a broken arm all place a person at higher risk for developing this condition.
The old adage, use it or lose it, comes to mind. Retaining mobility and staying active is key. Luckily, preventative precautions are easy.
First, remain active and keep the joint in use through simple actions such as sweeping the floor, raking the leaves, making the bed--all of which require good range of motion and keep the joint mobile.
Relieve the Pain
Second, minimize any occurring pain through the use of OTC anti-inflammatory medications, whatever will allow you to keep moving. A safe soothing topical pain reliever is Super Blue Stuff OTC by BLUESPRING. If needed, consider the use of hot and cold compresses or other topical medications and remedies.
Last, routine daily stretching exercises are highly recommended. A list of shoulder exercises can be found online, through your doctor or physical therapist or may even be posted at your local gym (please consider consulting a physician before making any major change in exercise routines). The length of or exertion during these exercises are not as important as the commitment to daily movement. Maintaining your activity level and mobility helps ensure your shoulder retains its fullest range of motion and this is key to avoiding Frozen Shoulder.