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Health A-Z

Frozen shoulder: Information and advice

I've been diagnosed with frozen shoulder and would appreciate any info or advice on its cure. Should I try to carry on normally, forcing the shoulder into painful positions? Or should I avoid any movement that causes pain?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Shoulders seize up for a variety of reasons often the most minor of injuries or strains. The shoulder capsule seems to stiffen up and prevent the joint from moving freely. If you try to move a frozen shoulder it can be incredibly painful, but if you don't move it at all, it tends to get even stiffer. Gentle exercise is certainly better than no movement. Frozen shoulders go through three stages: freezing, frozen, and thawing. If you are in the "freezing" stage, you may be able to benefit from both physiotherapy and a local injection of steroid. Many GPs are able to give these injections, but if yours is not able to do this, ask for a quick referral to a rheumatologist. If you wait until the shoulder is completely frozen, then you may be in for a long period of immobility and pain before it finally "thaws" naturally. The Arthritis Research Campaign publishes an excellent leaflet "The Painful Shoulder". Go to www.arc.org.uk to order a copy online.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.