What Is Frozen Shoulder?

man with painful shoulder joint

Frozen shoulder can be a debilitating condition. It most often afflicts people between the ages of 40 and 60. Although frozen shoulder can clear up on its own, an orthopedic doctor can speed up recovery with a number of non-surgical and surgical treatments. Here is what you need to know about this condition.

What Happens with Frozen Shoulder?

When you have frozen shoulder , the shoulder capsule tightens and bands of tissue called adhesions develop. As a result, your shoulder becomes increasingly stiff and difficult to move. Frozen shoulder happens in three stages. The first stage is freezing. You will notice shoulder pain and stiffness that gets progressively worse. Freezing can last between six weeks and ninth months. The second stage is referred to as frozen. In this stage, pain diminishes but stiffness lingers. During this period, which can last between four and six months, even basic activities may be difficult. Thawing is the final stage. At this point, your shoulder returns to normal. Thawing can take up to two years.

What Causes Frozen Shoulder?

The exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown. However, orthopedists have identified some risk factors. Diabetes is one of the biggest risk factors for frozen shoulder. Up to 20 percent of people with diabetes experience this condition. Other medical problems associated with frozen shoulder are hypo- and hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease. Frozen shoulder can also be caused by long periods of immobilization, such as during recovery from a surgery.

How Is Frozen Shoulder Treated?

Your orthopedic doctor may recommend a range of different treatments for frozen shoulder. The focus of treatment is controlling pain and restoring motion in the shoulder. For most patients, non-surgical treatments, including steroid injections and physical therapy, are effective. A small portion of patients require orthopedic surgery.

The earlier you start treatment for frozen shoulder, the better, so make an appointment at Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine as soon as you notice symptoms. Our NYC-based orthopedic doctors and surgeons can also help with knee, ankle, and wrist injuries . Schedule your appointment by calling (866) 650-8063. 

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