What is a Frozen Shoulder?


Adhesive Capsulitis (AC), also known as Frozen Shoulder, is a painful and debilitating condition which restricts the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint movement. It often starts off with a slight pain and stiffness in the shoulder which gradually worsens, making it difficult and painful to exert movements which require the shoulder such as reaching above your head.

In the early stages of developing a Frozen shoulder, patients will often experience extreme pain at night which interrupts and disturbs their sleep. Lack of sleep can cause its own pain and depression therefore the treatment for a frozen shoulder is focused on relieving pain so patients can sleep better and restore the shoulder’s normal range of motion.

What are the stages of a Frozen Shoulder?

The symptoms of a frozen shoulder are classified into three main stages.

Frozen shoulder has three stages

Stage 1- Freezing: Pain gradually increases and shoulder motion becomes increasingly hard

Stage 2- Frozen: Pain may decrease but the shoulder remains stiff with restricted movement

Stage 3- Thawing: Pain may fade but may also, return occasionally and movement becomes easier.

Who is more likely to get a Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder tends to recover slowly and may worsen rather than improve. It predominantly affects people aged between 40 to 60 years and approximately 70% of people with a frozen shoulder are women. Additionally, people with diabetes are more likely to develop a frozen shoulder.

What Causes a Frozen Shoulder?

The exact cause of a Frozen Shoulder is still unknown. However, due to the complexity of the shoulder joint, the cause of a frozen shoulder could be multifactorial. Usually, the shoulder joint (joint capsule) thickens and eventually forms a band of tissue called adhesions. During this stage, the shoulder joint causes inflammation in the surrounding soft tissue structures.

These inflammations cause stiffness and adhesions, which results in fibrosis (fibrotic scarring) on the synovial lining (inside shoulder joint).

Inflammation in any joint can cause pain which can worsen with movement as well as limit the range of motion. Therefore, in the case of a frozen shoulder, overuse injuries such as bursitis or tendinitis of the rotator cuff is more likely to result in a frozen shoulder due to the high presence of inflammation-causing pain therefore lack of mobility and over time, the shoulder joint loses its range of motion capacity.

Come and see us at the clinic for an individualized treatment plan to find a long-lasting solution to relieve you from a frozen shoulder.

Come and see us at the clinic

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