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Is an X-ray needed in the diagnosis of frozen shoulders?

What are Frozen Shoulders?

Frozen Shoulders are a condition where your shoulders capsule ( a ligament or tissue which combines the three bones of the shoulder - humerus, scapula, and clavicle and holds them together ), and over time due to certain scars in the tissues the synovial fluid (which keeps the joints greased) decreases in quantity and because of that, the shoulder capsule becomes so tight and that it doesn't move causing the shoulders to completely freeze.

What are the symptoms of Frozen Shoulders?

Frozen shoulders typically build in a 3 phase process, so the symptoms at each phase will be different:

But here are some common symptoms you may experience -

  • Limited hand movements, and difficulty in carrying out daily activities.

  • Difficulty in sleeping at night because of worse pain in both shoulders or one.

  • Not being able to move the shoulders completely - the freezing and the last point.

Am I at risk of developing Frozen Shoulders?

You are prone to develop it if you are :

  1. In your old age (40-60) years of age.

  2. A Diabetic patient (Type 1 and 2).

  3. Suffering from any Cardiac Disease like a heart attack or stroke.

  4. Have you had any surgery like a mastectomy.

  5. A thyroid patient.

Is an X-Ray needed in the diagnosis of Frozen Shoulders?

Typically it is seen that the Frozen Shoulders develop in three phases - the first phase lasts for about 6-9 months, the second phase lasts about 4-12 months and the third phase (the thawing stage) lasts up to three years.

And the twist is here, in most cases it is seen that in the third phase, the shoulders go back to their normal condition itself, without the help of any treatment.

So, to answer the question - whether an X-Ray is needed in the diagnosis of Frozen Shoulders or not?

First, we need to understand this -

Frozen Shoulders causes are many and simply put - Performing an x-ray is a diagnostic criterion which you will have to fulfil, though an X-Ray cannot confirm whether you have frozen shoulders or not, it can rule out other potential causes of it, so choosing an X-ray completely depends on you.

When you go to your doctor, they will assess your situation by making you perform different exercises (also known as active and passive movements of the shoulders) by making you move your shoulders in different directions and positions to determine the real condition of your shoulders.

But by doing exercises, if it is not showing signs of frozen shoulders, then your doctor may recommend taking an X-Ray, but even after the X-Ray, the cause is undetermined then your doctor may refer you to take an MRI and CT Scan of your shoulders.

But in the majority of the frozen shoulders cases, it was seen that after 3 years of having it, the frozen shoulder itself got away and the patients were back again in their normal condition.

If you don't want to opt for an X-ray, then you can self-help yourself by taking some painkillers, doing exercises, physiotherapy etc.

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