What is a Frozen Shoulder?

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Frozen shoulder is the popular name for the medical condition known as adhesive capsulitis. This condition affects your ability to move your shoulder through the usual range of motion. There is stiffness in the shoulder joint and it can be very painful, even with treatment.

The condition, sometimes called frozen shoulder syndrome, occurs when a lining of fibrous tissue known as the shoulder capsule – which lines the shoulder joint – becomes thickened and swollen.

frozen shoulder syndrome


The condition usually only affects one shoulder, but almost 20% of patients are unfortunate and see the condition spread to the other shoulder. Most sufferers are people between the ages of 40 and 60.Frozen shoulder pain may feel similar to Arthritis but the condition is different as it does not affect other parts of the body.

Recovery can be slow and symptoms often last for three years, although for some people it can be much quicker than this.

If you feel you may be suffering from frozen shoulder symptoms, the main thing to look out for is a painful, persistent stiffness of the shoulder joint, which makes it very difficult to move the arm as usual.

If you are finding it hard to carry out everyday tasks such as dressing, driving and sleeping comfortably. A number of sufferers find that they are unable to move the shoulder at all, hence the name, frozen shoulder.

Symptoms are usually experienced in three stages, which are spread over a lengthy period of time – sometimes years:

ONE: the joint starts to ache and feel stiff. It then becomes very painful. Many sufferers find the pain worse at night when lying on the affected side. This initial stage usually lasts between two and nine months, rarely longer.

TWO: the adhesive stage. The joint becomes progressively stiffer, although the pain does not normally worsen. You may experience slight muscle loss as it can be hard to exercise the arm with the use of the shoulder. This stage lasts between four and twelve months and is where frozen shoulder physiotherapy can be useful.

THREE: the recovery stage. Sufferers gradually regain movement of the shoulder. The pain fades and you will be able to do many more tasks. This final stage lasts five to twelve months.

If you are hoping to remedy Frozen Shoulder, you will be disappointed to learn that nothing can be done to speed the healing process.

The use of anti-inflammatory drugs and specialist physiotherapy can help to ease the pain and maintain some movement.

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Updated: January 26, 2014 — 5:27 am

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If you feel that you have a health problem, you should seek the advice of your Physician or health care Practitioner.

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