Frozen shoulder is a condition that restricts the motion of shoulder joints and is associated with pain and stiffness. It is also known as adhesive capsulitis. The ball and socket joint of the shoulder is made up of three bones with tissues surrounding that joint called shoulder capsule. With frozen shoulder, the capsule becomes thicker and tighter making it harder for the joints to move. The scar tissues develop with time and the synovial fluid also limits the area for joints to rotate restricting its movement.



The signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder worsen before resolving over the years. It usually occurs in people between the ages of 40 to 60. The major symptoms of frozen shoulder are pain, swelling, and stiffness. The first symptom of adhesive capsulitis is pain which causes you to limit your movement leading to stiffness in the shoulder.  The less you move your shoulder the harder it becomes.

Frozen shoulder gradually develops over time in three phases. Each stage can last for several months.

  • Freezing stage:
    The pain in your shoulder increases as you move it limiting the range of motion. The pain is worse during the night and can last for 6 to 9 months.
  • Frozen stage:
    During this phase, the pain lessens and becomes bearable while the stiffness of the shoulder muscles increases. It becomes more difficult to move your shoulders and carry out the daily task. This can proceed for 4 to 12 months.
  • Thawing stage:
    During this stage, the movement in your shoulder starts to improve and go back to normal. It can take 6 months to 2 years to recover.

Causes and Risk Factors

Frozen shoulder usually occurs in people with a weakened immune system and hormonal imbalance. Women are more likely to have a frozen shoulder than men. People with diabetes or other medical condition like heart disease and thyroid disease, Parkinson’s disease are prone to frozen shoulder. If your muscles and body movement are limited or a person is immobilized due to some injury, illness or surgery, it increases the stiffness in your shoulders causing inflammation. This condition usually takes 2 to 9 months to develop.



There are many methods to treat frozen shoulder. To speed up the process, many doctors recommend a combination of these methods. Frozen shoulder if remain untreated can last up to 3 years.

  • Physical therapy:
    This is one of the most common treatments for the frozen shoulder that can be done at home as well. It involves the stretching of shoulder joints and muscles which help loosen it. Progress can be seen within 3 to 9 months and muscle motion is regained.
  • Medications:
    To treat the symptoms of frozen shoulder i.e. pain and inflammation, many doctors recommend anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin.
  • Home care:
    Doing certain exercises instructed by your therapist at home and putting an ice pack on your shoulder can help reduce pain and improve your movement.
  • Surgery:
    If physical therapy doesn’t improve the condition of a people, the next option is surgery. The purpose is to remove the scar tissues and put the shoulder in full range motion.
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