Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't. – Jerry Rice

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.