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The Reasons Behind Frozen Shoulder and Immediate Actions to Be Taken

Adhesive capsulitis popularly called frozen shoulder, a common disorder causing pain, joint stiffness, and loss of motion in the shoulder. The condition can be severe, and become worse with time if proper treatment is not taken. It mainly affects people of age between 40 to 60 years and women more prone to this condition than men.

The cause of frozen shoulder isn’t fully understood, but probably it is associated with the inflammatory process. In some cases, freezing might occur due to immobilization of shoulder for a long time because of injuries, surgery, or any other illness. In most cases the exact cause is obscure. However, the shoulder can be unfrozen with specific treatments and lots of self-help even though full recovery takes time.

Anatomy Of Shoulder

The shoulder is the main joint which has a wider range of motion than any other part in our body. The flexibility of the is due to the ball-and-socket like arrangement called the glenohumeral joint. It joins the upper arm bone(top of the humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula) called the glenoid cavity.

The forward and backward movement of the shoulder and rotation & extension of the arm is provided by this glenohumeral joint. Synovial fluid, a lubricant filled in a flexible capsule that protects the joint and also helps in the smooth movement. The capsule is fully surrounded by ligaments with connecting bones, tendons connecting muscles to bones, and bursae – the fluid-filled sacs that protect tendons and bones during motion.

Of all, the rotator cuff is another major part, where the group of muscles and tendons that stabilizes the shoulder joint and also controls its movements. This complex architecture of soft tissues is responsible for the marvellous flexibility of your shoulder, but it is more vulnerable to trauma and chronic wear & tear of tendons and ligaments.

Reasons Behind Frozen Shoulder

Your shoulder is mainly made up of three bones which include the shoulder blade bone, the collarbone, and the humerus(upper arm bone). It has a ball-and-socket joint where the upper arm bone fits into this socket. The joint is surrounded by connective tissues called the shoulder capsule. A fluid named synovial enables your shoulder joints to move without friction.

It is believed that frozen shoulder might happen when scar tissue is formed in the shoulder. This leads the capsule in the shoulder joint to thicken and tighten, leaving no space for movement.

The process of freezing begins with you had a shoulder injury such as a fracture or inflammation of the soft tissues around the joint. Typically, it is due to overuse or due to injuries like bursitis or tendinitis of the rotator cuff. Inflammation can cause pain which becomes worse with movement and also limits the range of shoulder motion.

Certain factors mention below might increase the risk of developing a frozen shoulder.

Age and sex

Women are at more risk than men to develop frozen shoulder and people aged between 40 and 60 years are more likely to get it.

Certain Health Factors

People who suffer from reduced mobility of their shoulder are also at high risk of developing a frozen shoulder. The Immobility of the shoulder might be a result of many factors which include:

  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Broken arm
  • Fractures
  • Recovery from surgeries like mastectomy

Certain Medical Conditions

People with specific medical conditions are more likely to develop this frozen shoulder. The conditions that may increase the risk include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Tuberculosis

How To Recognize Frozen Shoulder?

Most of the people with a frozen shoulder will suffer from persisting pain and shoulder joint stiffness. Gradually these signs and symptoms will develop and may resolve on their own. Typically, they develop slowly in three stages and might last several months in every stage.

Freezing stage: In this stage, any shoulder movement results in pain and slowly limits your shoulder’s range of motion.
Frozen stage: In this stage, you may feel less pain, but your shoulder becomes stiffer and makes it more challenging to use.
Thawing stage: In this stage, your range of motion begins to improve in your shoulder.

How To Treat Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder problem might resolve on its own, but if it is left untreated, the pain and stiffness remain for years. Specific treatments can speed up your recovery:


OTC pain relievers, like aspirin and ibuprofen, can help in reducing pain and inflammation. In some severe cases, your doctor may suggest some stronger anti-inflammatory drugs for pain-relieving. Steroid injection is given to your shoulder joint in some conditions.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is the most common and best treatment given for a frozen shoulder. A physiotherapist teaches you some stretching exercises to regain the lost range of motion. It takes a few weeks to months to see progress. Your dedication in doing these form exercises is very important to speed up recovery.

Surgery & Other Procedures

It the condition of the frozen shoulder doesn’t get better, and the symptoms are intense or worsening over time, then the doctor might suggest some other treatments, which include:

  • Steroid injections: Corticosteroid injections are given in order to improve the mobility of your shoulder joint and to reduce your pain.
  • Joint Distension: This is a procedure where sterile water is injected into your shoulder joint capsule which stretches tissues and improves your shoulder movement.
  • Shoulder manipulation: This is a procedure where your shoulder joint is moved in different directions to loosen the tightened tissue. This procedure has become very rare because arthroscopic surgery has replaced it.
  • Surgery: Surgery is very rare to treat frozen shoulder. However, when other treatments failed, your doctor may recommend surgery. Mostly, the surgical option would be an arthroscopic procedure.

You may also suggest with some lifestyle changes and home remedies applying heat or cold to the frozen shoulder can relieve from pain. For more details about frozen shoulder or facing any other shoulder problems, contact Dr Chandra Sekhar, the best shoulder surgeon in Hyderabad.

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