Treatment Options For Frozen Shoulder (Other Than Physiotherapy)

Treatment Options For Frozen Shoulder (Other Than Physiotherapy)

The medical condition, ‘adhesive capsulitis’ is not a life threatening condition, but is a painful condition that can make life difficult for people who are experiencing it. In layman’s terms, the condition is known as ‘frozen shoulder’ and whilst it is not indeed a life threatening condition, it is both painful and can greatly inconvenience anyone who has a frozen shoulder.

The Pain And Inconvenience Of Frozen Shoulder

If someone has a frozen shoulder, it may well be in the arm that they use most, so if they are left handed, then it is in their left hand and if right handed, then in their right arm. So not only are they in pain, since it is a painful condition, but they can also find day to day activities such as dressing, working and even driving or putting on a safety belt can be very difficult.

True, it may not be a condition that completely debilitates someone, but nonetheless it causes huge inconvenience, makes life difficult and even causes sleep problems when the person is unable to sleep for the pain that they are experiencing.

Initial Treatments For Frozen Shoulder

The usual first step for frozen shoulder is to undergo some physiotherapy, which will try to restore mobility to the shoulder and ensure that the pain is minimised. Usually this is sufficient, in conjunction with painkillers, to eradicate the condition.

However, where patients have not responded to physiotherapy, there are other options available, so if physiotherapy has not been successful, then patients should not give up hope!

Different Treatment Options

Surgery is always the last option, since it is always preferred to have non invasive treatments exhausted before surgery is undertaken.

Nerve Blocks:

A nerve block can be used to stop the nerves feeling pain for a while. This is not a complicated procedure and is basically an injection that reduces inflammation and ensures that the patient can do physiotherapy without pain, which should see the condition improve.

Steroid Injections:

Steroid injections are used to reduce inflammation within the shoulder joint and again, this will offer the patient time without pain to undertake physiotherapy.

Pulsed Radiofrequency Treatment; The Optimum Treatment

Pulsed radiofrequency treatment differs from both nerve blocks and steroid injections in the sense that it is a longer lasting treatment. The nerves are treated with short pulses of radiofrequency, which (unlike traditional radiofrequency) does not ‘kill off’ the nerve endings, but rather it tricks them (more accurately re-trains them) into thinking that they no longer feel pain. Since the nerves are not deadened by the treatment, the patient is pain free for longer.

This longer period without pain allows the patients more time to work on freeing up the shoulder through physiotherapy and gently exercises at home. Thus it can be viewed as a more effective treatment than both nerve blocks and steroid injections and since it is minimally invasive as well as very quick, it is also preferred to radical treatment such as surgical procedures.