Frozen Shoulder FAQs (Part 1)

Frozen shoulder (“adhesive capsulitis”) is a very common, yet complex and painful problem that affects a large number of people. In this two part article Dr. Rehman answers patients frequently asked question about frozen shoulder.

What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is when, over time, your shoulder becomes progressively stiffer. It results in a decrease of your range of motion, and frequently causes significant pain and discomfort.

How does frozen shoulder progress over time?

There are three stages of frozen shoulder: freezing, frozen, and thawing. The first stage, freezing, occurs when the shoulder gradually begins to lose its range of motion. During the freezing stage, it becomes increasingly more painful to move the shoulder, with the worst pain typically occurring at night. When the shoulder reaches the frozen stage, it is still left with a diminished range of motion, but it may also result in diminished pain. During the thawing stage of frozen shoulder, your full range of motion is regained.

How long does it take to progress from freezing to thawing?

Unfortunately, reaching the thawing stage of frozen shoulder can be a lengthy process. Most cases of frozen shoulder resolve within a period of 11 or 12 months on their own – without intervention – while others can take up to four years.

Getting medical treatment and physical therapy as early as possible is the best way to shorten the duration of frozen shoulder, as well as to reduce the intense pain. With a doctor’s care, steroid injections and a dedicated physical therapy regimen frozen shoulder can sometimes be resolved in as little as a few months.

What causes frozen shoulder?

One of the most common ways to develop frozen shoulder is going a long period of time without moving your arms. People recovering from injuries to their arms that require wearing a sling frequently develop frozen shoulder, but frozen shoulder can develop with or without external trauma to the arm or shoulder area.

Do certain people face a higher risk of developing frozen shoulder than others?

People with thyroid disease are among the highest at risk for developing frozen shoulder, as are diabetics and women ages 40 to 60.

What is actually happening to your shoulder when it “freezes?”

When the shoulder “freezes,” the muscles in your shoulder (ligaments) become rigid and unable to bend.

How do doctors diagnose frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is typically diagnosed with a physical exam. As the symptoms of frozen shoulder are similar to degenerative arthritis or general inflammation of the shoulder, an X-ray or MRI may also be implemented to give an accurate diagnosis.

How can I avoid developing frozen shoulder?

The best way to keep from getting frozen shoulder is to regularly move your arm and shoulder as much as possible, leaving your shoulder and arm immobile only when absolutely medically necessary. If you begin to notice pain in your shoulder or begin to notice a reduced ability to move your shoulder, seek medical attention immediately.

Can a person experience frozen shoulder multiple times?

While it is possible for frozen shoulder to occur more than once, it is extremely infrequent for the same shoulder to be afflicted more than once. In most cases of a person experiencing frozen shoulder more than once, it develops in the opposite shoulder.

Once my shoulder thaws, will I regain my full range of motion?

In most cases of frozen shoulder, it is reported that following the thawing stage, the full range of motion returns to the shoulder.

Is there any connection between frozen shoulder and arthritis?

While the symptoms can be similar, there is not a direct relation between arthritis and frozen shoulder.

CLICK HERE for Part 2 of Frozen Shoulder FAQs

Bloomfield Hills Frozen Shoulder Doctor

If you are suffering from an injury or pain in your fingers, wrist, elbow, arm or shoulder, contact board certified Bloomfield Hills surgeon Doctor Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with most medical conditions, early detection, awareness, and a prevention or treatment plan is the most effective way to combat the effects of frozen shoulder.

Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the frozen shoulder treatments and therapies that are best for you.

Bloomfield Hills Frozen Shoulder Doctor: 248.335.2638