Physiotherapy for Upper Limb Problems

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder (sometimes called adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder) is a condition where a shoulder becomes painful and stiff. Shoulder movements become reduced, sometimes completely ‘frozen’. It is thought to be due to scar-like tissue forming in the shoulder capsule. Without treatment, symptoms usually go but this may take up to 2-3 years.

The typical symptoms are pain, stiffness and limitation in the range of movement of one of your shoulders. The symptoms typically have three phases:

  • Phase one – the ‘freezing’, painful phase. This typically lasts 2-9 months. The first symptom is usually pain. Stiffness and limitation in movement then also gradually build up. The pain is typically worse at night and when you lie on your affected side.
  • Phase two – the ‘frozen’, stiff (or adhesive) phase. This typically lasts 4-12 months. Pain gradually eases but stiffness and limitation in movement remain and can become worse. All movements of your shoulder are affected. However, the movement most severely affected is usually rotation of the arm outwards. The muscles around the shoulder may waste a bit as they are not used.
  • Phase three – the ‘thawing’, recovery phase. This typically lasts between one and three years. The pain and stiffness gradually go and movement gradually returns to normal, or near normal.

Symptoms often interfere with everyday tasks such as driving, dressing, or sleeping.

The cause is not clear. It is thought that some scar tissue forms in the shoulder capsule. The capsule is a thin tissue that covers and protects the shoulder joint. The scar tissue may cause the capsule to thicken, contract and limit the movement of the shoulder. The reason why the scar tissue forms is not known.  A frozen shoulder occasionally follows a shoulder injury. However, this is not usual and most cases occur for no apparent reason.

A physiotherapist at Physioleeds will be able to give you expert advice on which exercises to do to increase the range of movement and reduce the pain in your shoulder joint.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is inflammation of the tendons of the elbow (epicondylitis) and caused by overuse of the muscles of the forearm.  The common extensor tendon muscles produce wrist and finger extension, movements such as typing, gripping and lifting loads. When repetitively used, this tendon complex can become irritated, leading to inflammation and injury (see picture below) This then in turn responds abnormally to (normal) loads and tension, which means that the condition can easily become chronic and never fully settle unless the tendon is addressed with appropriate management at an early stage.

In most cases, you can start treating a tendon injury at home. To get the best results, Rest the painful area, and avoid any activity that makes the pain worse.

Apply ice or cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, as often as 2 times an hour, for the first 72 hours.

physiotherapy for upper limb problems

To reduce pain, stiffness and weakness call Physioleeds.  It may take weeks or months for a tendon injury to heal. Be patient, and stick with your physiotherapy treatment. If you start using the injured tendon too soon, it can lead to more damage.

PhysioLeeds Fit4Work, Bankside, 71 Breary Lane East, Bramhope, Leeds, LS16 9EU

PhysioLeeds Fit4Work, Trinity Fitness, Brownberrie Lane, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 5HD