Anyone who’s experienced frozen shoulder will tell you that they’d do just about anything to get relief from the pain and immobility it causes.
Like ice, a frozen shoulder can “melt,” and repair itself, but this isn’t guaranteed, and can take months to several years. No one deserves to live with the discomfort and physical limitations of the condition for that long.
As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who has treated scores of athletes (including serving as team physician for the New York Mets), Dr. Struan Coleman has seen his share of frozen shoulder cases and treated them successfully.
However, each case is different, and Dr. Coleman and his team focus on you, your injury, and your goals to get you back to the level of comfort and activity you desire.
How can I tell if I have frozen shoulder?
Frozen shoulder symptoms generally come on gradually, and begin with:
- Shoulder stiffness and pain
- Upper arm pain
- Partial or complete shoulder immobility
- Increased pain at night
The condition earned its name because as it progresses, the shoulder undergoes a process similar to the stages of water as it begins freezing, reaches a frozen state, and then thaws. The symptoms above describe the freezing phase, which can last up to nine months.
Once your shoulder is “frozen,” your pain might abate, but your stiffness worsens and this can last up to a year. Finally, during the thawing stage, which can take up to two years, you may regain your ability to move your shoulder freely.
The shoulder joint
Your shoulder is made up of three major components: the upper arm bone, the shoulder blade, and the collar bone. The synovial membrane surrounds your shoulder joints, and the fluid it produces keeps your shoulder limber.
When the capsule around the shoulder joint becomes inflamed, scarred, thickened, or shrunken, frozen shoulder can occur. This can be due to injury or surgery, and your chances of getting frozen shoulder increase if you’re female, if you’re over 40, or have diabetes.
What are my treatment options for frozen shoulder?
You’re in good hands with Dr. Coleman. He considers many things as he devises your treatment plan:
- Whether you’re in the freezing, frozen, or thawing symptom stage
- If you’ve exhausted home remedies, such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, exercises, and icing
- If in-office treatments such as corticosteroid injections have failed to alleviate your pain and limited movement
Unfortunately, sometimes these treatments don’t end up working. The good news is that Dr. Coleman offers a surgical option that many patients tolerate well.
Minimally invasive surgery as a solution to frozen shoulder
If you’ve exhausted other options, Dr. Coleman considers a minimally invasive surgery that he performs routinely that’s a well-proven frozen shoulder solution.
Shoulder arthroscopy is a procedure in which Dr. Coleman makes several small “keyhole” incisions in your shoulder area. He inserts a flexible fiber-optic camera known as an arthroscope into these openings to see and repair your frozen shoulder.
Dr. Coleman relieves the tightness in the joint capsule by cutting portions of it, which allows your shoulder to move freely again. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis, and you’re often back home within hours after its completion.
Post-surgery, Dr. Coleman creates a recovery plan that’s tailored to your situation and needs, which include wearing a sling, resting, ice treatment, and physical therapy.
Don’t shoulder this burden alone
Meet with Dr. Coleman if you’ve been suffering from frozen shoulder, and see if you’re a candidate for shoulder arthroscopy. Call one of our three offices — NYC, Locust Valley, or Philadelphia — or use our convenient online booking tool.