Diabetes and frozen shoulder

Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes and Frozen Shoulder

November marks World Diabetes Awareness month, so we thought it was an ideal time to raise awareness of frozen shoulder. This painful condition can arise as a complication of Diabetes.

Known to cause issues with mobility, frozen shoulder is a condition that often worsens before it gets better. However, there are ways to manage it to limit pain and stiffness. Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about Diabetes and frozen shoulder.

What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a condition in which the shoulder becomes progressively more stiff and painful. It typically lasts for months, and sometimes years, impacting your ability to carry out daily activities.

Also referred to as Adhesive Capsulitis, it develops when the ligaments of the shoulder joint become swollen and stiff. As the tissue becomes inflamed, it can cause issues with healing. A frozen shoulder usually gets better over time without treatment, but recovery is often slow and can take at least 18 to 24 months.

How are Diabetes and frozen shoulder linked?

While frozen shoulder can impact anyone, mainly affecting people aged between 40 and 60 and women more often than men, those with diabetes are known to be twice at risk of developing the condition. Research has shown that it is likely a result of how it impacts collagen formation within the shoulder.

It is thought that high blood sugars form advanced glycosylation end products (AGEs). The AGEs latch onto tendons and ligaments, limiting movement in the shoulder. Combined with impaired blood circulation also due to high blood sugar levels, the shoulder stiffens up and becomes inflamed. If Diabetes isn’t controlled, it can lead to a whole host of skeletal and muscular problems.

What treatment options are available?

Treatments for frozen shoulder are designed to minimise the pain and help to restore movement by stretching the shoulder capsule. It is rare to need surgery to treat the condition, though it may be recommended when nothing else is working.

Most patients find that the condition clears up within a year. The most common treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections
  • Shoulder manipulation
  • Joint distension

Physical therapy tends to be the most common and effective option. A trained physician will help to improve range of motion in the shoulder using targeted exercises. Steroid injections and joint distension techniques are effective at helping to control the pain.

When might I need surgery for frozen shoulder?

If your frozen shoulder isn’t improving through non-surgical methods, surgery may be recommended. This involves removing the scar tissue, alongside adhesions from within the joint of the shoulder. Small incisions are made around the joint using an arthroscopic method before the affected tissue is removed.

To find out which treatment option is right for you, book a consultation with one of our shoulder specialists today. You will be advised whether surgery is suitable, or whether non-surgical methods are your best option.