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Watch for early signs of 'frozen shoulder'

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Doctors are concerned that cases of frozen shoulder are on the rise. Surgeons at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., say that because of increase in obesity, diabetes, and an aging population, the increase is a continuing concern.

Frozen shoulder is a condition in which the shoulder capsule contracts or becomes inflamed, causing adhesions and scaring that "freeze" the shoulder. Inactivity after even a minor injury can bring it on, though it usually begins spontaneously. Symptoms include pain in the shoulder, especially when attempting to raise the arm.

When raising an arm straight up, normal range of motion allows the arm to be raised as high as top of the head. A person with severe frozen shoulder can move a straight arm only waist high or lower.

Orthopedists say that if patients and doctors understood the risks and symptoms, the disorder could be successfully treated by physical therapy. Early diagnosis when the condition is still "freezing" is the key. Early therapy lessens the severity and lifespan of the disease.

Currently, about six million people in the U.S. suffer from the condition. About 10 percent to 20 percent of diabetics will have it at one time or another. And women are affected somewhat more often than men.

Shoulder ligaments are normally elastic and tighten when you reach up high. In a frozen shoulder, the joint gets smaller. Ligaments adhere to the shoulder or tighten at its resting position. Movement becomes painful and difficult, or even impossible.

Doctors have also found that a shot of cortisone into the shoulder may prevent a full-blown case of the disease.

For severe cases, surgery is required. But for many with advanced frozen shoulder, full range of motion will not be achieved.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Watch for early signs of 'frozen shoulder'

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