Capsulitis is a condition where the cartilage covering the bones in your body (the vertebrae) becomes inflamed or infected. If left untreated, it will eventually cause death due to the pressure of bone breaking through the skin.
The main causes are trauma such as falls from heights, car accidents, being crushed during childbirth or even getting hit by a train.
It is one of the most common injuries among young children and elderly people.
There are many different types of capsulitis and they all have their own symptoms. Some patients may not experience any symptoms at all while others develop them within weeks or months after the initial injury.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
Painful swelling of the affected area. This pain usually occurs around the site of injury and spreads throughout the body. Sometimes there is no pain at all but other times it is severe enough to make you feel sick. Your joints may become swollen, tender and painful. You may also experience numbness in your fingers or toes which makes it difficult to do anything except hold something with your hands or pinch your nose.
There are some cases in which the pain doesn’t subside. It is constant and you feel as if your body is on fire. Even the smallest touch can cause you winch in pain. You might have problems moving certain areas of your body such as your neck, arms, legs or worst of all, your back. Even though you may be feeling nauseous and feverish, you may also shiver uncontrollably as though you have a very high fever.
Capsulitis can also be categorized as acute or chronic depending on the period in which it develops.
Acute capsulitis occurs within a few days after the initial injury while the pain and swelling seem to subside within a few weeks.
Chronic capsulitis lasts for at least three months and usually affects people who are in poor health or people who are recovering from major surgeries such as hip replacements, knee replacements or spinal fusion surgery.
If the first signs of capsulitis occur within three months following surgery, it is referred to as postoperative capsular contracture. The main symptom of this type of capsulitis is the inability to move the part of the body affected by the surgery.
These symptoms are usually temporary and will most likely resolve on their own without any treatment. However, if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, then you should seek medical help immediately:
If your eyes are affected, then it is difficult to see objects that are close to you.
Your face becomes swollen and you may start losing control over certain facial muscles.
If your arm or leg becomes paralyzed, you will not be able to move it no matter how hard you try.
You experience severe chest pain.
Any of the above symptoms occur after you have had major trauma to the affected area. For example, if you recently broke your hip and then you experience extreme pain and swelling in your groin or upper thigh, then you should seek immediate medical attention.
The exact causes of capsulitis are not known but there are certain factors that may accelerate its development.
Immobility of the affected body part. If you’ve had a recent surgery, then your doctor may put you on bed rest or keep you immobile for a few days. This can lead to contractures that may result in capsulitis.
Recent fractures or broken bones in the affected area are also at risk of developing capsulitis.
Obesity is a known risk factor for developing capsulitis. Excess weight puts more strain on your joints and may cause the buildup of fatty deposits around the joint, which will eventually lead to capsulitis.
If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, then you are at a higher risk of developing long-term pain and inflammation in your joints.
Smoking is another major risk factor for capsulitis. Nicotine and other harmful substances found in cigarettes can damage the blood vessels that provide oxygen and nutrients to cells in your body, which can lead to cell death or cell decay in your joints.
Long-term steroid use may also increase your risk of developing this condition.
If you have had previous joint surgery, then you may be at a higher risk of developing capsulitis.
It’s not exactly clear what causes capsulitis but it is believed that it is related to the inflammatory process of the synovial membrane that lines your joint. The condition most often affects middle-aged people or elderly people who suffer from other pre-existing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
Capsulitis can also affect younger people in their 20s and 30s but this is a less common occurrence. In some cases, the exact cause of capsulitis may be difficult to identify and this may lead to a misdiagnosis.
For example, if your doctor thinks that you’re suffering from capsulitis, but a thorough examination does not reveal any signs consistent with the condition, then he or she may perform other tests to rule out other possible conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
These tests may include:
MRI or CT Scan
Synovial fluid analysis
If you have not been diagnosed with any other conditions that may be causing your joint pain, then a diagnosis of idiopathic capsulitis can be made. Idiopathic is a medical term that basically means “of unknown origin.”
Treatments for capsulitis will vary depending on the cause of your condition. Treatments may include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Peripheral nerve block
Immobilization is a temporary treatment option that helps to relieve joint pain and prevent further damage to the affected area. This treatment is only recommended for non-moveable joints such as the spine.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help to relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation but they should not be used long-term due to their many serious side effects. Commonly known NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve).
Steroid injections are a common treatment for joint pain caused by inflammation. Steroids have many side effects and should only be used to treat your condition on a short-term basis.
Physical therapy may be recommended to help strengthen the muscles around your affected joint and to improve your range of motion.
Surgery is usually a last resort, but in certain cases when conservative treatments have failed, joint replacement surgery may be recommended to relieve pain and improve function.
Immobilization is sometimes necessary to allow an injured or weak joint to heal properly. A brace or cast is typically used to keep the affected area still, but it should only be worn for a short period of time.
Most types of capsulitis resolve on their own within a few weeks or months, so treatment may not be necessary.
The length of time that you will have to wear a cast or brace will vary depending on the type and severity of your condition. In general, a hard cast or brace should only be worn for four to six weeks, while a soft brace can be worn for several months.
Casts and braces work by preventing the surrounding muscles from moving the affected joint.
Immobilization is effective in most cases, but if your condition is severe or does not improve with treatment, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged tissue, remove inflamed tissue, or to perform a joint replacement (such as a knee replacement).
Surgery is only recommended in severe cases when non-surgical treatments have failed.
In some rare cases, the cause of your condition may be due to an underlying medical problem such as an infection or a tumor, and treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause.
The goal of surgical treatment for capsulitis is to alleviate pain and restore function. Medial and lateral releases are types of surgery that may be used to treat your condition.
Physical therapy is an important part of post-surgical treatment.
Personal care and maintenance is important to decrease the chance of the condition from recurring. Activities such as heavy lifting should be avoided, and you should try to maintain a healthy weight.
Capsulitis is not life-threatening, but may cause pain and loss of function in some people.
Long car rides and other activities that require long periods of sitting can increase your risk of getting the condition. It is recommended that you take breaks, get up, and move around as often as possible.
Smoking and obesity are also known to increase your risk of capsulitis. Losing weight and not smoking may decrease your risk of the condition.
Wearing a seat belt that properly fastens you is important to prevent injuries in the event of an accident or crash.
Many types of capsulitis are classified as overuse syndromes. This means that the condition is caused or made worse by repeated actions such as overuse or misuse of a joint. In most cases, it is recommended that you take at least a day of rest after an injury to allow the affected area to heal.
While some types of capsulitis can be prevented, others cannot. In some cases, the cause of the condition is unknown or genetics may play a role.
A proper warm up before engaging in physical activity and proper stretching may help to decrease your risk of injury.
Capsulitis is a condition that affects one or more of your joints. The most common forms of capsulitis are: bursitis, which affects the fluid filled sacs within your joints; tenosynovitis, which affects the fluid and lining around your joints; and tendonitis, which affects the tendons that attach to your bones. These conditions have similar symptoms, and can be difficult to tell apart.
The exact cause of capsulitis is usually unknown, but in most cases the condition is believed to be caused by overuse or trauma to a particular joint. Obesity can also increase your risk of developing the condition, and some people may be more susceptible due to family history or genetics.
Treatment for capsulitis will depend on the type you have been diagnosed with. Medications such as NSAIDS can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Resting the affected area and applying ice can help to relieve pain and swelling. Injections of steroids or other medications can help to provide short-term relief from pain. Occasionally, surgery may be recommended in order to repair any damage to the affected area.
It is important to note that while treatment can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, it does not always reverse any damage that may have already been done to the affected area. In some cases, capsulitis may become chronic, which means that there is long-term or permanent damage to the affected area.
It is important to take proper care of any injuries as soon as they occur in order to prevent any complications. In some cases, it may be beneficial to seek medical care right away or to at least seek treatment from a physician if your symptoms do not begin to improve within a few days.
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