All You Need to Know About Frozen Shoulder


You will never know the importance of being able to move freely until you experience conditions that limit you to do so, such as having a frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis. It all starts with pain on your shoulder, which is tolerable from the start but may progress to severe pain until you can no longer perform range of motion exercises on the affected shoulder.

What Is a Frozen Shoulder?

It all starts with inflammation, which then leads to scarring. This scarring promotes the formation of adhesions, and since your shoulder consists of soft tissue capsule that encapsulates the ball and joint socket, the thickening of this tissue would lead to immobility and pain. Adhesions also hinder your joint from having enough space to move around.

What Are the Stages?

1. Painful stage: This is also called the freezing stage wherein your shoulder starts to be painful.

2. Adhesive Stage: Also called the frozen stage, usually lasts from four to nine months. There could still be pain, but stiffening is more evident.

3. Recovery Stage: The last stage would be the thawing stage. As the name suggests, the movement of your shoulder would gradually return to its normal state.

What Are the Types?

Although it focuses explicitly on the mobility of the shoulder, it has two types based on their causes.

The first type is called the primary adhesive capsulitis. The specific cause for this type of frozen shoulder is still not determined. However, hormones and the immune system may play a significant role in this. Some diseases, such as diabetes, are also said to be a contributing factor to developing a frozen shoulder, and because of this, there’s a possibility that both joints are affected.

Secondary adhesive capsulitis is the opposite of the former because the cause is known and acquired. Unlike the primary type, it may be caused by an injury or prolonged bed rest due to surgery or stroke.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Just like any other condition, a physician should perform a physical examination first to gather data such as the onset of symptoms and other co-morbidities. For a more in-depth look into the shoulder affected, an x-ray or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) could be done to rule out any possible causes of the pain and stiffness of the joint.

How Is It Treated?

Although physical therapy is one of the effective non-invasive treatments for a frozen shoulder, there are other ways to treat or improve the symptoms of one. Non-invasive methods include applying warm compress on the affected area, and intake of anti-inflammatory medications such as steroids. For a more severe case, surgery can be considered if no improvement is seen from doing the non-surgical methods. The idea of the surgical approach is to manipulate the joint capsule for the shoulder to move freely.

George Fulbright

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