Frozen shoulder is a specific form of shoulder pain, caused by inflammation of the tissues around the shoulder joint.
Frozen shoulder is a condition which occurs when the tissue around our shoulder joints becomes inflamed. This causes pain and stiffness – when suffering from a Frozen Shoulder, it can be very uncomfortable to move our arms and shoulders. Although Frozen Shoulder is quite common, it’s fair to say that nobody really knows for sure what causes it.
The pain and stiffness from Frozen Shoulder typically lasts for a prolonged period of time – if you’ve been suffering pain and stiffness in your shoulder for more than a couple of weeks, you might have Frozen Shoulder, and it’s worth consulting with a Virtually GP.
Frozen Shoulder can be painful and debilitating. But it is not a serious condition, and although we can suffer from Frozen Shoulder for a long time (often a period of a year or two), the condition will normally resolve itself over time with the appropriate management.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when suffering from Frozen Shoulder is that it’s important to keep the shoulder moving. Although doing so can sometimes be painful, not exercising the shoulder at all can cause the condition and pain to worsen. It’s important to be sure, though, that the exercises we are performing with our shoulders are the right ones. The best way to be sure of this is to consult with a Physiotherapist or GP
Currently, the best way to resolve Frozen Shoulder is through physiotherapy. Remember to be persistent with the exercises which your physiotherapist gives you – Frozen Shoulder is not resolved overnight, and it’s best to remain persistent and patient with a set of exercises which will gradually return mobility to your shoulder.
Frozen Shoulder can be very painful, and is often managed – especially early on – with pain-relief. If the pain and stiffness is mild, then you will be able to use over-the-counter pain medication. If the pain is more severe, then you may need to be prescribed stronger pain-relief for a short time, in order to enable you to begin physiotherapy.
If you suspect you have Frozen Shoulder, it is a good idea to consult with a Virtually GP. More generally, if you are suffering from very bad shoulder pain (Frozen Shoulder often gets more painful at night) or are struggling to move your arm and shoulder freely, then you should discuss your condition with a GP – you should not try to manage your condition on your own. If you have recently suffered an injury to your shoulder, then your condition is unlikely to be Frozen Shoulder. But you should still consult with a Virtually GP – you might have torn or ruptured a tendon or ligament around your shoulder, which is causing your pain.
Virtually GPs are able to give you advice on shoulder exercises (which may help with the stiffness and increasing mobility). Generally, though, we would advise speaking to a Virtually Physiotherapist about this (see below).
More often, a Virtually GP would be able to discuss pain-relief for a Frozen Shoulder with you, should you find that the pain is hard to manage with over-the-counter medication. A Virtually GP, perhaps in consultation with a Virtually Physiotherapist, will also be able to refer you to a specialist if required.
Aside from pain-relief, the main way that Frozen Shoulder is treated is through physiotherapy. If, after consulting with a GP, you are confirmed to have Frozen Shoulder, then it is a very good idea to book a video consultation with a Virtually Physiotherapist.
Virtually Physios will be able to provide you with a number of exercises – ranging from developing mobility, to strengthening the shoulder, to giving advice on good posture – to resolve the condition over time.
Importantly, unlike most NHS physiotherapy services, there is no limit on the amount of follow-up consultations you can book with a Virtually Physiotherapist. In the past, if a GP referred a patient for physiotherapy, they would have a limited number of sessions to attend, before going back to their GP and requesting another referral if needed. At Virtually we feel that this can be time-consuming and frustrating for patients.
Instead, our patients can book into our Physiotherapists’ clinics whenever they require support. As Frozen Shoulder is a condition which requires long-term exercise over a period of a year or more, our Virtually Physiotherapists will be able to support you all the way through managing your condition, from diagnosis to resolution.
We offer written, telephone and video consultations with a range of male and female clinicians from GPs, nurse practitioners, and primary care specialists such as physiotherapy.