Frozen Shoulder, Stiff Shoulder, Immobile Shoulder or Inflamed Shoulder
A frozen shoulder may develop slowly after a car accident as the joint becomes inflamed, stiff and sometimes immobile. Although it is not widely known what causes this disorder, it usually occurs after you have injured your shoulder and have worn a sling for some period of time. A frozen shoulder can make every day activities painful and sometimes impossible. Inflammation in the joint may cause adhesions to develop on joint surfaces. Another component of a frozen shoulder is a decrease in the amount of synovial fluid. The fluid has the consistency of egg yolks and helps to reduce the friction on the cartilage in the joints during movement.
Although pain may make it difficult, physical therapy to the frozen shoulder is vital in an attempt to enable you to regain joint function and use of your arm. If the pain is too great for you to undergo physical therapy, you may be administered trigger point injections or nerve blocks which can provide temporary relief to allow your therapist to move the shoulder joint. The injections are routinely performed in a doctor's office.
Once the shoulder is "frozen", a long road lies ahead. It can sometimes take over two years of treatment for the shoulder to regain mobility. Your doctor will take an MRI to rule out other causes of shoulder pain, including a torn rotator cuff.
If the shoulder has not improved, surgery may be necessary. A doctor may perform Manipulation Under Anesthesia, which involves putting you to sleep so that a doctor may manipulate the shoulder joint without causing you pain. This allows the doctor to stretch the joint and to break any adhesions that may have resulted. A doctor may also perform arthroscopic surgery which will involve cutting the portions of the shoulder joint that have become tight. After surgery, physical therapy will be required to keep the mobility and total recovery time may be three months.