Frozen shoulder and diabetes

If you have ever experienced times that your arm falls asleep and feels like pins and needles as it wakes up, you have just an inkling what it feels like to have frozen shoulder all of the time. Strangely enough, although doctors really don’t know why, many diabetics have suffered from frozen shoulder. Not all people who have experienced frozen shoulder have diabetes, and not all who have diabetes will ever have frozen shoulder but it is more common than you may expect.

Frozen shoulder, also known as Adhesive Capsulitis tends to occur in about 20% of patients between the ages of 40 to 60 years. Many of those patients are also diabetic. The symptoms include a progressively worsening pain along with stiffness that worsens over time. Eventually the shoulder becomes completely immobile.  The symptoms are often similar to tendonitis or bursitis, with the exception of the extreme pain and complete immobility that results from frozen shoulder.

Doctors have no idea why it seems to occur among diabetics, but they do have a working theory. They believe that glucose tends to attach to the collagen in the shoulder’s tendons and cartilage, thereby causing the stiffness to develop.

It appears that the non-dominant arm tends to develop frozen shoulder than the dominant one. If you consider the process in which frozen shoulder develops, this makes a crazy sort of sense. Usually the pain comes first, which results in the sufferer using the arm less to avoid the pain. As they continue to use the arm less, the pain continues to worsen and the stiffness becomes more complete. In the case of a non-dominant arm becoming more aggressively stiff than the dominant, it makes sense this would be the case since the arm is naturally used less than the dominant one. In most cases only one arm is affected at a time with frozen shoulder.

Physical therapy is the treatment of choice. It is usually quite painful, but it does appear to help. If the case is caught in later stages or not discovered until the arm as essentially atrophied, the doctor may use injections of cortisone to help with movement and pain relief to help with recovery from physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory drugs and local anesthetic injections may also be used.

If a patient follows their both their diabetic treatment plans and frozen shoulder therapy and treatments, he may find relief. Although the therapy may be hard to get through, it is well worth it in the long run to regain motion and ability so that you can do more of your regular daily activities such as getting dressed.

How do you know if you have frozen shoulder? Well, you should be able to reach over head without any pain or reduction in range of motion. If one arm is affected more than the other, compare the range of motion and level of pain. If the arm with less range is also painful, you may be in the developing stage of frozen shoulder. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible; the earlier the better.

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