Frozen Shoulder

What Is A Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a painful shoulder condition where the patient gradually experiences progressively worsening stiffness and loss of range of motion in the shoulder joint. It can take up to three years fora motion to return and often times the patient does not experience full motion return. Frozen shoulder progresses in three stages:

  1. Freezing stage
  2. Frozen stage
  3. Thawing stage


What Are The Causes Of A Frozen Shoulder?

Primary frozen shoulder is an idiopathic condition with no known cause of the condition. Secondary frozen shoulder may result from patients who also have diseases like diabetes, thyroid disorders, cardiac disease, Parkinson’s or in those who have had their shoulder immobilized (like after surgery or a fracture).


What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Adhesive Capsulitis?

AC typically begins with shoulder pain at end ranges of motion and shoulder pain at rest and at night. The pain typically worsens over the course of 3-9 months, after which the pain begins to subside but the patient will then experience a gradual loss of shoulder range of motion, lasting another 4-12 months. The shoulder becomes very stiff and the range of motion can be mild to significantly limited and painful, particularly in the directions of external rotation and abduction. Over the course of the next 1-3 years, the shoulder will slowly begin to regain motion, though without treatment the shoulder may never regain full motion.


What Are The Risk Factors Of A Frozen Shoulder?

Individuals who have diabetes, thyroid disorders, cardiac disease, and Parkinson’s have a higher incidence of experiencing frozen shoulder. Patients who have had their shoulder immobilized post fracture or surgery also have a higher incidence. The condition also occurs more frequently in women between the ages of 40-65. Having frozen shoulder on one side increases your chances of having it on the other shoulder by up to 34%.


How Is Frozen Shoulder Diagnosed?

Frozen shoulder may first present with similar symptoms to other shoulder conditions such as impingement or tendonitis, so it is important to have an experienced therapist perform a thorough exam. It is diagnosed when the shoulder exhibits restrictions that are consistent with the signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder and when the range of motion limitation presents in a capsular pattern, meaning the pattern of motion restriction is external rotation is more limited than abduction and abduction is more limited than internal rotation.


What Are The Possible Treatments For A Frozen Shoulder?

Physical therapy is the primary treatment for frozen shoulder. PT should consist of soft tissue massage and myofascial release to decrease guarding and tightness. Most importantly, the range of motion and joint mobilization will be performed. The PT will provide graded joint mobilizations in various positions to improve overall range of motion. Stretching and exercise will help to maintain gains made in PT. Your PT will discuss with you and your MD if an injection may be beneficial. Extreme cases may require procedures such as manipulation under anesthesia or surgical release.


Are There Preventative Steps Or Measures To Avoid A Frozen Shoulder?

Maintaining a good range of motion and flexibility and utilizing good body mechanics is a great way to keep the shoulders healthy but the frozen shoulder is often idiopathic in nature.


What Are The Risks If A Frozen Shoulder Is Left Untreated?

The patient may develop permanent scar tissue in the shoulder and permanent loss of range of motion, which will, in turn, limit their ability to perform their daily functional activities.


Are There Other Related Conditions To A Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is more likely to happen in the diabetic population.


Key Takeaways About Frozen Shoulder

  • Physical therapy is essential in treating frozen shoulder. It helps to improve joint mobility and range of motion, reduce inflammation, improve muscle tightness soft tissue, and regain strength.
  • Without treatment, a patient is at risk of a permanent range of motion loss.
  • Spring Forward PT offers one on one treatment sessions ensuring that frozen shoulder patients receive the therapist’s undivided attention. With a focus on manual therapy, each patient will the hands on the treatment required to treat the condition and regain full range of motion.


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