MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At the State Fair, she joked about it.
“I just want to say, warn you again, I have a frozen shoulder,” Amelia said.
But it really wasn’t funny. The feeling in Amelia’s shoulder was unlike anything she’d felt before.
“It was so painful,” she said. “I can’t explain the amount of pain it took for me to even put it up like this. It got so bad, I thought it was my back and there was something going on with that and there was a pinched nerve of some sort.”
“Adhesive capsulitis is the medical name for it and it’s just commonly known as ‘frozen shoulder,'” Dr. Frank Norberg said.
“It feels like their arm is stuck and they can’t get past this position. And it’s not frozen like cold, but frozen like when something gets stuck in one spot.”
Norberg is an orthopedic surgeon and a shoulder specialist at Twin Cities Orthopedics.
He diagnosed Amelia’s condition and recommended the most common and effective treatment, physical therapy.
“The capsule of the joint, or the space that encloses the joint of your shoulder, shrinks down and gradually over time first becomes inflamed and then it tightens up, and starts blocking motion in every direction,” he said
And causing pain.
“It can be so bad that some people get tears in their eyes or drop to their knees,” Norberg said.
“Most commonly you are going to see it in middle age people, more commonly in women than men, usually in that 40 to 60 age old group.”
Norberg says it’s not clear what causes frozen shoulder but doctors do know what helps — physical therapy sessions and stretching at home. Over time the body corrects itself.
“By doing gradual and repetitive exercises, just for the stretching, you can regain range of motion,” Norberg said. “And with that you also usually see decreased symptoms.”
Frozen shoulder typically lasts 18 to 24 months.
“I can still feel it every once in a while though here,” Amelia said. “But hopefully through time and continuing physical therapy it will go away.”
Norberg says he sees two or three new frozen shoulder patients a week.
Cortisone shots and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen are also treatment options. He says surgery is rarely necessary.
He also said people who have diabetes have a higher risk of developing a frozen shoulder than others.