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Frozen Shoulder and Diabetes

The causes of Frozen Shoulder in Diabetes are unknown, but 20% of all Diabetes patients suffer from it.

Adhesive Capsulitis, also referred to as “Frozen Shoulder” is a painful condition involving the connective tissue of the shoulder joint.

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint surrounded by a layer of connective tissue.

Frozen Shoulder is the inflammation of the tissue, resulting in adhesions and scar tissue that develops between the joint surfaces.

Frozen Shoulder usually begins with mild pain in the shoulder. This pain is usually more severe if the dominant shoulder is the one affected.

As it progresses from the first stage into the second stage (“Frozen Stage”), the shoulder will begin to further lose mobility, making it harder to do everyday tasks, like brush your hair or button a shirt. The condition is diagnosed by an examination and a medical history.

It’s not known why diabetics are at a higher risk for developing Adhesive Capsulitis, but one of the theories involves Collagen.

Collagen is the building block for ligaments and tendons. Collagen fibres normally slide along one another during muscle movement, allowing for smooth movement of the joints.

During a process called Glycosylatin, glucose bonds collagen molecules together, resulting in abnormal deposits of collagen in the cartilage and tendons. This process can also occur on the skin, which is why some diabetics have thicker skin.

In diabetics, Frozen Shoulder can be harder to cure. Regular patients usually begin to see results after several months of physical therapy and exercise.

In diabetics, therapy is usually slower to show results, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Decreasing the effect of Frozen Shoulder usually requires maintaining close control of your blood sugar.

Even if blood sugar is normalized, Frozen Shoulder won’t go away.

Cortisone injections can temporarily increase glucose levels. That doesn’t mean cortisone treatments can’t be used, only that a temporary adjustment in medication may be required.

Physical Therapy

One of the more successful treatments for Frozen Shoulder in diabetics is deep tissue massage or physical therapy.

A therapist applies steady pressures to the muscles to release the adhesions and scar tissue that contribute to the shoulder pain. A deep tissue massage stretches muscles and softens the adhesions.

Arthroscopic Surgery

Another treatment that is gaining in popularity is arthroscopic surgery. Previously, arthroscopic surgery to remove scar tissue was considered a last resort, but more doctors are suggesting it as the first line of treatment.

Both type I and type II diabetics are at an elevated risk of Frozen Shoulder. That risk increases if you are insulin-dependent, affecting 36% of insulin-dependent diabetics. It’s necessary to continue to control your blood sugar, as that will promote healing.

It can take 2-3 years of therapy and treatments before Adhesive Capsulitis begins to go away, but it is possible for it to reverse itself, if aggressive measures are taken to restore mobility to the joint.

The best way to promote healing of a stiff, immobile shoulder is to continue to use it on a daily basis. If you stop moving your shoulder, the condition will only worsen. Even though it’s painful to exercise the shoulder joint, immobility will only exacerbate the problem.

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