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What is frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder is a condition that usually involves pain and stiffness that develops gradually, gets worse and eventually goes away within one to three years. The tissue surrounding the shoulder joint that holds it together becomes tight, making it hard to move. Scar tissue formation and the reduction of the liquid in the joint that helps keep it lubricated limit the motion even more.

Possible Causes: 

Stiffness and pain in your shoulder could be a sign that you have frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis.It has been observed that anybody could get a frozen shoulder but some possible causes are:

  • If you have diabetes
  • Immobilising your shoulder for a long period, like after surgery or an arm fracture

Risk Factors: 

While anyone can get it, people who are 40 years old and above, especially women, are more likely to have frozen shoulder.

There are two main groups of people who are at a higher risk of getting a frozen shoulder:

  • People with prolonged immobility of the shoulder due to injuries such as a broken arm, rotator cuff injury, stroke or surgery.
  • People who suffer from diseases like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, cardiovascular disease, tuberculosis or Parkinson's disease.

Signs & Symptoms: 

The bones, cartilages and ligaments that make up your shoulder are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement.

There are three stages of a frozen shoulder – freezing, frozen and thawing stage. In the first stage any movement causes pain, and your shoulder's range of movement becomes limited. In the second stage, the pain may reduce, however, your shoulder becomes stiffer and difficult to use. In the third stage your shoulder begins to improve.

Diagnosis: 

A frozen shoulder diagnosis is based on your signs and symptoms alone. Meet a specialist in the Medcare Sports Medicine Centre to examine your passive and active range of motion, and check if there are any other conditions such as an associated tendonitis. To rule out other disorders, an X-ray or an MRI may be suggested.

Treatment Options: 

Frozen shoulder treatment involves controlling shoulder pain and preserving mobility of the shoulder:

  • Medications can help reduce pain and inflammation. For increasing mobility, physiotherapy and frozen shoulder exercises are recommended. Usually within 12 to 18 months you can achieve reasonable recovery.
  • However, if your condition doesn’t improve, then injecting corticosteroids into your shoulder joint may help.
  • To help loosen the tightened tissue, our specialist may move your shoulder joint in different directions under general anaesthesia.
  • In some cases, to remove scar tissue and adhesions from inside your shoulder joint, an arthroscopic surgery may be carried out.
FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • What happens when you get a frozen shoulder?

    A: The bones, ligaments and tendons that make up your shoulder, are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, causing movement to become restricted.

  • How long does it take to recover from a frozen shoulder?

    A: For most people, a frozen shoulder heals with or without physiotherapy within 1 to 3 years, however, recovery is slow. Physiotherapy, medications and local injections are used to shorten this period. Sometimes, arthroscopic surgery is required to release the tight capsule.

  • Is there any way to prevent frozen shoulder?

    A: While one can’t say for certain that frozen shoulder can be prevented, the right exercises may help. You should regularly exercise your shoulders, taking care to do gentle exercises without jerky movements. If your shoulder has been immobilised due to an injury or accident, ask your doctor to recommend suitable exercises to regain range of motion.

  • I’m diabetic and have read that I have a higher risk of suffering from frozen shoulder. What care should I take?

    A: Diabetics are at a higher risk of suffering from frozen shoulder because excess glucose can adhere to cells and damage the connective tissue that makes up joints capsule. The best thing you can do is control your blood sugar and keep it as close to normal as possible. Regular exercise, such as yoga or tai chi can also help to maintain flexibility and strength.

  • Can frozen shoulder go away on its own?

    A: Frozen shoulder usually happens when people are mostly immobile or have suffered an injury. It could even occur in cases where a patient has opted for shoulder surgery. It has been associated with diabetes and thyroid disease.

    Typically, a frozen shoulder can heal on its own with the right stretching exercises and physiotherapy, but this can take as long as 12 to 18 months to heal completely. However, if the condition doesn’t go away even after a year of exercising and resting, surgery might be suggested to the patient.

    Need effective and successful treatment for your frozen shoulder? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • Does frozen shoulder show up on MRI?

    A: We usually perform a physical examination and ask various questions to determine whether you have a frozen shoulder or not. Apart from that, we may also do an X-ray to ascertain if there is any damage to the bone. 

    An MRI can also be done to help detect damage to the surrounding tissues and can usually indicate the presence of frozen shoulder. Diagnosis is made by a combination of history, physical examination and imaging techniques, therefore; consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis if you feel any symptoms of frozen shoulder.

    Unsure if you are suffering from a frozen shoulder? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

  • How long does it take for a frozen shoulder to heal?

    A: Shoulder issues generally take longer to heal, especially if it’s around the rotator cuff area. We rarely recommend surgery for a frozen shoulder unless the patient has tried all conservative measures.

    Frozen shoulder can heal spontaneously in about 12 to 18 months. This period can be shortened by regular physiotherapy and sometimes shoulder steroid injections administered by your doctor. Occasionally arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery may be needed. Mind though, even with surgery, you will still have to undergo rehab exercises and take proper care to expedite the process. 

    Want to heal your frozen shoulder quickly and safely? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • How do you sleep with a frozen shoulder?

    A: To ensure you get comfortable sleep when suffering from a frozen shoulder, give the shoulder adequate rest during the day. This helps reduce inflammation, which in turn reduces the pain by the time you have to go to bed. 


    Pain-relieving medication is also an option to decrease pain and inflammation, and it must be taken right before going to sleep. You can also try using warm packs for at least half an hour before bedtime for a more peaceful sleep.


    Want a good night's sleep, but your frozen shoulder is getting in the way? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • What is the best treatment for frozen shoulder?

    A: The treatment for a frozen shoulder focuses on controlling the shoulder pain and bringing fluid motion back to the shoulder.

    As most frozen shoulders tend to get better within 12 to 18 months on their own, the best treatment for it is pain-relieving medication combined with regular physical therapy. that can be combined with local steroid injections. 

    While surgical options are available, they are not required in most cases. However, make sure you consult your doctor to make a joint decision about the best option of treatment for you.

    Need treatment for your frozen shoulder? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

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