Do you have frozen shoulder?

Do you have frozen shoulder?

Nobody wants to receive the cold shoulder and feel purposely ignored, but the pain of bruised feelings is nothing compared to the physical pain that comes with frozen shoulder.

If you find that doing daily tasks are difficult due to discomfort in your shoulder only to find that over time, the pain is getting worse, you might have what is called adhesive capsulitis, also known as “frozen shoulder.”

“It is one of the most un- or under-diagnosed conditions in all of shoulder patients I see on a weekly basis,” says Dr. Joseph Norris, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill.

Dr. Norris explains that the covering of the shoulder joint is hard, like a cover for a baseball. In a normal shoulder, this joint capsule is elastic and allows for a great range of motion. With frozen shoulder, the covering itself can get inflamed, thicken and become tough.

The stiffening of the tissue that surrounds the joint of the shoulder restricts motion and causes chronic pain, almost “freezing” the shoulder into place. There is no tear or other apparent cause.

“When the cover of the joint is inflamed, if you stretch it or twist it in any direction, it hurts,” Dr. Norris explains. “It limits the motion in every plane.”

There are three phases to adhesive capsulitis:

1) Freezing – Typically lasts from 6 weeks to 9 months. Pain will slowly worsen and shoulder will lose range of motion.

2) Frozen – Lasts 4 to 6 months. Stiffness remains, and daily activities can be difficult.

3) Thawing – Can take from 6 months to 2 years. Shoulder motion and strength improves slowly.

“At 18 months, every patient with adhesive capsulitis will eventually regain motion,” says Dr. Norris. “When your shoulder starts to use motion again, it’s all about breaking up those adhesions.”

Treatment includes anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, injections and motion. If symptoms still persist, surgery followed by therapy can help speed up the healing process by cutting out the scar tissue caused by adhesive capsulitis.

“After this type of surgery, the patient’s life is back to normal four weeks later,” says Dr. Norris.

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  1. Had physical therapy two years ago when I was experiencing this. Regained full motion of my shoulder. Have had no additional issues since. PT was wonderful.

  2. I was in my mid 40’s (I am now 60) when I developed this painful awful condition. It took approximately 2 years like the article above stated to get through it. Mine was idiopathic (no known cause). The bad news was there was a high chance of getting it the other shoulder which I did 3 years later! Makes me appreciate/sympathize with people who have disabilities and what they encounter on a daily basis!

  3. Acupuncture can do wonders for frozen shoulder!

  4. I have it now. Have had it almost a year. Just finished physical therapy. I’m better, but looks like I still have a way to go yet before I’m pain free.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.