Ask the Sports Doc: Shoulders and elbows

Published 8:36 pm Thursday, October 7, 2010

By Manish Patel

I am a diabetic female recently diagnosed with a “frozen shoulder.” I am having a lot of pain when I move my shoulder. I can’t play any sports let alone do some of the basic things with my shoulder. What is the time frame that this will get better and what are my options?

Dr. Patel: Frozen shoulder can be very painful. Frozen shoulder is when the capsule around the shoulder joint thickens and tightens up. This causes a dramatic loss in the motion around the shoulder in all directions and in turn can cause inflammation of the capsule and the rotator cuff.

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Most people with frozen shoulder can get better with conservative treatment. If left untreated it may take up to 18 months for the motion to come back to normal.

My recommendation would be for a cortisone injection and aggressive physical therapy. I actually give two injections in the shoulder in different locations and start therapy that day. Over 90 percent of patients resolve their symptoms within 1-2 months. The rest may require gentle manipulation before getting better.

SQ asks: I have been diagnosed with a partial biceps tear (50 percent) in my elbow from an MRI. I injured it during a bowling game and now I am having pain for the past two months. Do I need surgery to get better?

Dr. Patel: A biceps tear in the elbow in an active individual needs to be repaired if you want to maintain strength in that elbow. A partial tear, if painful, needs to be repaired. If not addressed it may lead to a complete rupture and loss of strength. If a complete tear is left untreated, a deformity may form on the arm and may result in weakness. I would recommend surgery to get it repaired.