Frozen Shoulder : Golf Injuries

Shoulder problems are common in golf. The repetitive nature of the golf swing puts a lot of strain on the shoulder, especially if golfers are not using the correct technique. Frozen shoulder is one of several shoulder injuries that commonly affect golfers.

The Shoulder Joint Explained

The shoulder joint is where the humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone) meet. The shoulder joint has a lining, or capsule, which is loose and flexible, allowing the joint to perform its very broad range of movements. It is the shoulder capsule that is affected by frozen shoulder.

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitus occurs when the capsule, which is usually very flexible, becomes inflammed and thickened. This causes the ligaments in the shoulder joint to contract, severely limiting the shoulder’s range of movement. It usually occurs in the non-dominant shoulder. Female golfers and players over 40 are more likely to suffer from frozen shoulder.  Players who have suffered a previous shoulder injury, or have health problems such as diabetes and heart disease are also more vulnerable to developing this condition.

What are the Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder?

There are three different stages of frozen shoulder, and if left untreated the symptoms can persist for several years.

  1. The Freezing Stage: The shoulder will feel very stiff and painful, especially at night, and movement will be limited. This could last from 2-9 months.
  2. The Frozen Stage: The pain may ease but the stiffness and reduced mobility may get even worse. It will be especially difficult to turn the arm outwards and you may suffer from slight muscle wastage, as the shoulder is not being used. The stage generally lasts 4-12 months on average.
  3. The Thawing Stage: This is the recovery phase during which all of the symptoms will gradually diminish and the shoulder’s range of motion will begin to return to normal. The recovery phase could last anywhere between 5 months and a couple of years.

Can Frozen Shoulder be Prevented?

Ensuring your stance and swing action are correct will lessen the chances of developing frozen shoulder. Doing shoulder stretching exercises will also help to prevent frozen shoulder, as flexible muscles will work more efficiently and are less likely to stiffen up.

How is Frozen Shoulder Treated?

Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medication will help to reduce pain and swelling, but if the symptoms are particularly advanced, you may need a steroid injection in the shoulder. Steroids reduce inflammation and can relieve symptoms for several weeks. It is important to try to keep the shoulder moving to prevent it from stiffening up further. A physiotherapist will be able to advise you on the best exercises you can do. In extremely serious cases arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery may be necessary to release the shoulder capsule.

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