Frozen shoulder also known as adhesive capsulitis is characterized by pain and loss of motion or stiffness in the shoulder. It affects about two percent of the general population. Frozen shoulder most commonly affects patients between the ages of 40 and 60 years, with no clear predisposition based on sex, arm dominance, or occupation.
The causes of frozen shoulder are not fully understood. The process involves thickening and contracture of the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint. Frozen shoulder occurs much more commonly in individuals with diabetes, affecting 10 percent to 20 percent of these individuals. Other medical problems associated with increased risk of frozen shoulder include: hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson's disease, and cardiac disease or surgery. Frozen shoulder can develop after a shoulder is immobilized for a period of time. Attempts to prevent frozen shoulder include early motion of the shoulder after it has been injured.
Frozen shoulder typically develops slowly, and in three stages. Each of these stages can last a number of months:
Painful stage. During this stage, pain occurs with any movement of your shoulder and your shoulder's range of motion starts to become limited.
Frozen stage. Pain may begin to diminish during this stage. However, your shoulder becomes stiffer and your range of motion decreases notably. Avoid extreme movements that cause pain during this stage. But, you can and should continue normal use of your shoulder.
Thawing stage. During the thawing stage, the range of motion in your shoulder begins to improve. For some people, the pain worsens at night, sometimes disrupting normal sleep patterns.
Frozen shoulder will generally get better on its own. However, this takes some time, occasionally up to two to three years. Treatment is aimed at pain control and restoring motion