Frozen Shoulder

Enrique A. Wulff, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology
Neurology Consultant for Carmen Care Advanced Laser Therapy, Florida

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is stiffness, pain, and limited range of movement in your shoulder that may follow an injury. The tissues around the joint stiffen, scar tissue forms, and shoulder movements become difficult and painful. The condition usually comes on slowly, then goes away slowly over the course of several months or longer.

Frozen shoulder can develop when you stop using the joint normally because of pain, injury, or a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or arthritis. Any shoulder problem can lead to frozen shoulder if you do not work to keep full range of motion.

Frozen shoulder typically develops slowly, and in three stages. Each of these stages can last a number of months: * Painful stage. During this stage, pain occurs with any movement of your shoulder, and your shoulder’s range of motion starts to become limited. *Frozen stage. Pain may begin to diminish during this stage. However, your shoulder becomes stiffer, and your range of motion decreases notably. * Thawing stage. During the thawing stage, the range of motion in your shoulder begins to improve.

For some people, the pain worsens at night, sometimes disrupting normal sleep patterns.

Frozen shoulder occurs: after surgery or injury; most often in people 40 to 70 years old; more often in women (especially in postmenopausal women) than in men; most often in people with chronic diseases.

Your risk of developing frozen shoulder increases if you’re recovering from a medical condition or procedure that affects the mobility of your arm — such as a stroke or a mastectomy.

Gentle, progressive range-of-motion exercises, stretching, and using your shoulder more may help prevent frozen shoulder.