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Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)


Sudden pain, stiffness or loss of motion in the shoulder could be a condition called frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis. Although the cause of this condition is largely unknown, there are treatment options that can relieve symptoms more quickly. Read on to learn more.


Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Causes & Triggers

We don’t fully understand this condition. It’s a problem with the shoulder’s joint capsule. That’s a membrane that surrounds the joint. With frozen shoulder, this membrane thickens. Bands of tissue we call “adhesions” develop. Frozen shoulder maybe linked to swelling. It can develop after an injury. It can happen after surgery, or after your shoulder is immobilized for a period of time. And, it may be linked to diabetes and to other diseases.

Signs & Symptoms

Frozen shoulder is most often a problem for older people. It starts slowly, with mild pain. Over a few months, the pain gets worse. It can be hard for you to sleep. You begin to have trouble lifting your arm, or moving it backwards. With time, pain can lessen, but your shoulder may become so stiff that you can barely move it.

  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain
  • Stiffness

Tips & Treatment

A frozen shoulder will usually get better on its own, even without any treatment. However, this can take up to three years. You may benefit from treatment options such as medications, injections and physical therapy. Surgery can help, too. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that’s right for you.

  • With treatment, this condition usually takes 6 to 9 months for recovery.
  • Non-surgical treatments may include corticosteroid injections and intensive physical therapy.
  • Surgery may be recommended if the condition does not respond to non-surgical treatment.

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