What is a Frozen Shoulder

April 8, 2022

What is a Frozen Shoulder
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A Frozen Shoulder is a common condition which causes stiffness, pain, and loss of motion in the shoulder joints. It will involve pain and stiffness that will grow gradually in the joints and will go away after a year or 3. It is often known as Adhesive Capsulitis.

Our shoulder is made up of three joints, the upper arm (Humerus), Shoulder Blade (Scapula), and Collarbone (Clavicle). The shoulder capsule is the tissue surrounding the joint that holds everything together. Due to a frozen shoulder this capsule becomes so hard that it is difficult to move it.

Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulders develop gradually in three stages. Each stage mostly lasts for a number of months.

  • Freezing stage – At this stage any movement of the shoulder will cause pain and the motion of the shoulder is limited.
  • Frozen stage – The pain might become less at this stage, but the stiffness becomes stronger and becomes more difficult to move the shoulder.
  • Thawing stage – The range of motion of the shoulder starts to improve at this stage.

For few people, it might become difficult to sleep as the pain worsens.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder

The shoulder capsule is the tissue surrounding the joint that holds everything together. Due to a frozen shoulder this capsule becomes so hard that it is difficult to move it. Although there is not any concrete cause for frozen shoulder, doctors infer that it is most likely to affect people with diabetes or those who have had to immobilize their shoulder for a long period.

Risk Factors for Frozen Shoulder

There are a few factors that may increase the risk of a frozen shoulder.

    1. Age & Sex

People aged 40 and above, mostly women, are most likely to be affected by Frozen Shoulder.

    1. Immobility

People who have had to stay immobilized for a long period of time are at a higher risk of being prone to frozen shoulders. Immobility can also be caused by

      • Rotator cuff injury
      • Broken arm
      • Stroke
      • Recovery from surgery
    1. Systemic Diseases

People who are prone to certain diseases are at a higher risk of developing frozen shoulders.

Some of the diseases that may cause frozen shoulders are

      • Diabetes
      • Cardiovascular disease
      • Tuberculosis
    1. Diagnosis

When you go in for a diagnosis for frozen shoulders, your doctor will ask you to move in different positions to check the exact location of pain and infer the range of motion. Since frozen shoulders affect both active and passive range of motion, your doctor will then ask you to relax your muscles and move your arm to find the passive range of motion.

Usually frozen shoulders can be diagnosed with symptoms alone, but sometimes a doctor might suggest imaging tests like MRI or X-rays.

Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

Most of the treatment for frozen shoulders include controlling shoulder pain and preserving as much range of motion as possible.


Doctor prescribed medications like aspirin and Ibuprofen can help reduce the inflammation and pain that leads to frozen shoulders.


In some cases, a therapist can help you with range-of-motion exercises to help regain as much mobility in the arm as possible.

Some of the surgical procedures are

Mostly frozen shoulders heal themselves in a period of 12 to 18 months. If the symptoms seem to prolong, you might be advised to go through surgical procedures.

  • Steroid Injections – Corticosteroids injected into the shoulder joint helps reduce the pain in the shoulder.
  • Joint Distention – Injecting sterile water into the joint capsule can help in stretching the tissues and make it easier for the movement of the joint.
  • Shoulder Manipulation – Through this procedure, the doctor will move your shoulder joints in different directions to help loosen the tightened tissue, while you’ll be under sedation.
  • Surgery – The option of a surgery for frozen shoulders is very rare, but if no other options are prone to be fruitful the doctor will finalize on this method. In this method, the doctor will surgically remove the scarred tissue and adhesions from inside the joints.

An ALTERNATE Method that can be followed

  • Acupuncture refers to the procedure of inserting hair-thin needles into the skin at specific points. Usually the needle stays in its position for about 15-40 minutes.

Prevention for Frozen Shoulder

One of the most common and highly rising risk factors of frozen shoulder is the immobility that may result from a shoulder injury, broken arm, or a stroke. It is advisable to talk to your doctor about exercises that help in the movement of your shoulder.

People also ask

1. How can you get rid of a frozen shoulder?

Mostly frozen shoulders are treated with doctor prescribed medications, and therapy from a therapist. But if there are persistent symptoms of frozen shoulders it is best advised by doctors to undergo a surgery.

2. What is the main cause of frozen shoulders?

The most common cause of a frozen shoulder is the immobility due to an injury, broken arm, or a stroke.

3. Can frozen shoulders go away on its own?

Frozen shoulder usually affects only one shoulder and it does get better on its own. But sometimes it can take upto a year or 3 to heal itself or more in a few cases.

4. How do you relieve frozen shoulder pain?

One of the main things to follow to relieve yourself from frozen shoulder is to avoid movements that can cause pain, take the prescribed medicines in the right amount to stop the swelling, and most importantly habituate a few shoulder exercises to keep the shoulder joints in motion.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.



Department Of Orthopaedics

Department Of Orthopaedics

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