A Lasting Remedy: Treating Frozen Shoulder
Shoulder joints possess some of the greatest movement of any body part. But this high degree of joint movement can make your shoulders more susceptible to injury. Frozen shoulder is a health problem characterized by severely restricted shoulder joint movement and pain. This condition, which affects about 2 percent of the population, can greatly impair your ability to perform work, home, and leisure activities. Read on to learn more about this problematic condition and what you can do to restore full shoulder function and eliminate shoulder pain.
Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint composed of various muscles, a strong connective tissue capsule that encases the joint, and the following three bones:
Upper arm bone (humerus)
Shoulder blade (scapula)
Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, occurs when your shoulder capsule grows thick and tight and develops adhesions—stiff bands of tissue that limit movement. The restricted shoulder movement that characterizes this health problem usually occurs in three distinct phases:
- Freezing: Shoulder pain and reduced range of motion occur gradually. This phase often lasts from 6 weeks to 9 months.
- Frozen: Pain may diminish during this phase, but shoulder stiffness remains. This stage can last anywhere from 4 to 6 months.
- Thawing: Shoulder range of motion may improve slowly. This phase can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.
Frozen shoulder occurs most commonly in people between the ages of 40 and 60 and affects women more often than men.
Causes & Symptoms
Physicians and researchers are not sure why some people develop frozen shoulder, but several factors may contribute to this problem, including:
- Prolonged shoulder immobilization (e.g., following shoulder surgery or arm fracture)
Being over 40 years of age
Being diabetic (frozen shoulder occurs in 10 to 20 percent of diabetics)
Having other systemic diseases may also increase your likelihood of frozen shoulder. Such diseases include:
Common signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder include:
Dull or aching shoulder pain (usually in the outer part of your shoulder or upper arm)
Shoulder pain that worsens at night and disrupts your sleep
Restricted shoulder joint range of motion
Frozen Shoulder Treatment
Frozen shoulder is a challenging condition to treat, but one approach in particular produces excellent results in a timely fashion.