Physiotherapy ‘as good as surgery’ for fixing frozen shoulder

PHYSIOTHERAPY can be just as effective as invasive surgery for fixing one of the most common shoulder injuries, British surgeons have found.

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, affects about one in ten Britons, mostly those over 40, and is twice as likely in those with type 2 diabetes.

The problem – which occurs when tissue around the shoulder joint gradually stiffens – can become resistant to painkillers, so sometimes an operation is needed to remove the hard, inflamed area to ease excruciating pain and allow sufferers to regain the use of their arm.

But a new study involving 500 sufferers from 35 NHS Trusts has found that surgery may not be necessary for many of these patients.

The four-year study compared three different treatments – physiotherapy, keyhole surgery and physiotherapy combined with steroid injections to reduce inflammation.

Prof Rangan says the results show that the keyhole procedure should be reserved for only a small number of the most severe cases of frozen shoulder.

He says: ‘Keyhole is a resource- heavy procedure, taking up a lot of time and money.

‘Our study shows it isn’t always necessarily the best answer – especially for people with diabetes or other health conditions who want to avoid surgery. Now they have other options.’

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