To help your doctor or orthopedic surgeon achieve a proper diagnosis, he/she will begin with a medical history about you, your current condition and symptoms. He/she will inquire about the intensity of your present pain, the duration of your symptoms and the limitations you are experiencing. Details about what instigated the problem, when it started, and whether or not you have ever had treatments for this or a similar condition in the past, are very helpful in assessing your injury.
A physical examination will be performed to determine if you have any signs of adhesive capsulitis or other shoulder injury. Your doctor will visually assess and press on the bones and soft tissue in both your shoulders to evaluate sameness (symmetry) and recognize differences. This will identify any abnormalities, such as mild or severe inflammation, tenderness, fluid, bone or tissue deformity, weakened muscles, redness and/or warmth on the skin. He/she may ask you to complete a series of arm movements, such as raising your arms to the front, back and side, to measure your range of motion and see what causes pain and tightness.
Some of these will be performed by you and others will be performed by the doctor. Generally you will not be able to move your arm in any direction at all (or just slightly) if you have adhesive capsulitis whether you try to move it or your doctor tries to move it. If you have movement when your doctor moves your arm, you may be tested for other shoulder conditions.
Most Common Shoulder Diagnostic Tests
Diagnostic tests will often help to obtain more detailed information about your shoulder condition.
X-rays provide an image of the overall structure of the shoulder, and are helpful in identifying abnormal bone shapes and/or spurs, arthritis, or calcific tendonitis.
Arthrogram contrasts are special x-rays that show details of the shoulder capsule, such as a decrease in size (in a normal shoulder the capsule is rounded, but in a frozen shoulder the capsule is squat, square and contracted).
MRIs or CT Scans
MRIs or CT scans will provide more detailed information and will help to evaluate soft tissue (muscle, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue) injuries such as fluid in the shoulder, tendonitis and/or tears.
Blood testing can be done if the doctor suspects the primary reason for your frozen shoulder is a result of a systemic disorder
Range of Motion Diagnosis
There are several range of motion movements that can help diagnose adhesive capsulitis. Your doctor may ask you to:
- raise both your hands straight up in the air towards the ceiling.
- reach across your chest to touch the opposite shoulder.
- reach behind you and put your back of your hand against the lower back.
- reach your hand up towards your shoulder blade.
If there is limited range of motion for one or more of these movements, your doctor will probably recommend further diagnostic testing.
Your doctor may ask for an x-ray to look for fractures, a loss of joint space in the shoulder, bone spurs or calcification in the tendon. He or she may do anMRI to be able to see the soft tissue in your shoulder. This will give a clear picture of the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the shoulder, and will allow him or her to assess any damage. This assessment will determine the treatment options available to you. Treatment options will likely include Physical Therapy, stretching and targeted exercises, and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®).
Treating Adhesive Capsulitis
If you heal adhesive capsulitis properly and improve elasticity in your shoulder tissue, your chance of recurrance or chronic shoulder conditions later on is greatly reduced. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ will treat promote blood flow to heal your labrum, ligaments, and tendons in the rotator cuff and glenohumeral joint faster and more completely than any other methods available.