Everything You Need to Know About Frozen Shoulder

January 29th, 2020


Are you having difficulty reaching overhead? Does your shoulder lock up when you try putting on your shirt? Is it painful or difficult to put your hand behind your head? Motions that used to be easy and comfortable are now feeling stiff and painful. You may have Adhesive Capsulitis or better known as “Frozen Shoulder”. Below are common questions that we receive about Frozen Shoulder.

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is when the shoulder joint capsule thickens into a band of tissue called adhesions. This decreases the joint fluid and causes your shoulder to become stiff and tight.

What Are the Different Stages of a Frozen Shoulder?

  1. The first stage is called “Freezing” when you gradually start to have pain and loss of shoulder range of motion. This stage typically lasts between 6 weeks to 9 months. 
  2. The next stage is the “Frozen” stage when the pain symptoms begin to alleviate. However, the stiffness continues and activities such as reaching overhead are still limited. This stage typically lasts between 4-6 months. 
  3. The final stage is the “Thawing stage where your shoulder motion will begin to improve. This is when you will regain normal range of motion and strength. This stage may last between 7 months to 2 years. 

How Do You Get a Frozen Shoulder?

The exact cause of frozen shoulder is still not fully understood but there are many factors that put you at risk for developing this condition. The major risk factors are listed below. 

  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Cardiac diseases
  • Shoulder Immobilization.

How Can I Avoid a Frozen Shoulder?

Make sure you are always moving your shoulder. Try to avoid long periods of shoulder immobilization. If you begin experiencing decreased shoulder range of motion or shoulder pain, see a doctor immediately. 

Will my Shoulder Motion Ever Return?

Yes, patients with frozen shoulder typically restore their full shoulder range of motion in all directions.

How is Frozen Shoulder Treated?

Frozen shoulder is best treated through physical therapy or corticosteroid injections.

When to Seek a Medical Professional?

Seek medical attention if you are experiencing shoulder stiffness/pain that is preventing you from reaching overhead, putting on your shirt, or sleeping. For more information or a clinical evaluation, schedule an appointment with Respire Physical Therapy today.

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