Surgery is looked upon as the last resort in the treatment of frozen shoulder, after everything else such as medications, and therapies fail to respond positively.
The shoulder joints are the ones whose design allows them to have the greatest range of motion in the body. And one common medical ailment of these joints is what we know as the condition of frozen shoulder. Clinically known as adhesive capsulitis, it causes the shoulder joint to become stiff, thus reducing the range of motion significantly. This disease usually affects one shoulder, develops gradually, and deteriorate with time before getting resolved on its own. The initial stage of the condition begins with the person experiencing pain with every movement of his/her shoulder. And the person may also feel his shoulder’s range of motion getting diminished. Then comes the stage wherein, the affected shoulder becomes near-frozen with increased stiffness.
Here, the range of motion gets further diminished, but with a reduction in the pain that was felt before. The last stage of the condition is when the range of motion begins to return to normal. As observed by medical experts, within a period of 18-24 months, the condition gets resolved on its own. Treatment for the condition, although, may not speed up the recovery, but can sure make the symptoms more bearable for the patient. Surgical treatment for the condition, as cited above, is kept reserved for people who may not respond to other treatment methods. However, the need for surgery occurs in a small percentage of cases.
Procedure of A Frozen Shoulder Surgery
The shoulder joint is surrounded by flexible tissue known as a capsule. This tissue basically acts as an encase of the bones, ligaments and tendons that make up the shoulder joint. It is because of this capsule that the shoulders have the greatest range of motion in the body. When the arm is raised above the head, this capsule gets fully stretched, and when the arm is lowered, it hangs down as a small pouch. Due to certain factors, which are still unknown of, the capsule thickens, swells and tightens. It is believed that formation of scar tissue inside the capsule causes these effects. So once this happens, the shoulder joint starts becoming stiff and painful.
The surgery aims to remove the scar tissues or adhesions that have formed in the capsule. In this way, symptoms would be significantly reduced, and the joint can be moved more freely. The surgery that is taken up to treat this problem is known as arthroscopic capsular release. This surgery is a near-non invasive procedure, which makes use of pencil-sized instruments. These instruments are inserted into the affected site through incisions less than 1 cm (0.4 in) long. After the incisions have been made, these instruments are manipulated to remove the scar tissues, and help the contracted shoulder capsule to open up, thus providing more room for the joint to move.
Complications of the Surgery
Although effective, this surgery has a few risks or complications. The first risk is associated with tissue damage. Although the medical instruments used for the surgery are small in size, their placement and movement may inflict damage to the blood vessels, nearby nerves, and the joint structures. Other risks could be that of infection at the operated site, shoulder instability, increased stiffness or the need for a second surgery.
Frozen Shoulder Recovery Time
Post the surgical treatment of frozen shoulder, the patient needs to undergo physiotherapy. This is to help the shoulder maintain its mobility, and eventually help the patient regain full range of motion of the joint. Depending on how severe was the condition, and the extend of the surgery, the patient may take about 2-3 months to recover. It is important to know that healing takes time, thus requires the patient to follow the recommended measures in order to return to all the activities he/she used to perform before developing frozen shoulder.
Most people recover from the condition of frozen shoulder on their own, while some do the same, but with the help of medications and physical therapy. Most patients can enjoy painless days and greatly improved range of motion after undergoing the surgery. However, in rare cases, the result may be otherwise.