Frozen Shoulder – Causes and Stages

Frozen Shoulder Anatomy

frozen shoulder

Image from AAOS.org

Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle).

The head of the upper arm bone fits into a shallow socket in your shoulder blade. Strong connective tissue, called the shoulder capsule, surrounds the joint.

To help your shoulder move more easily, synovial fluid lubricates the shoulder capsule and the joint.

The shoulder capsule surrounds the shoulder joint and rotator cuff tendons.

Description

In frozen shoulder, the shoulder capsule thickens and becomes tight. Stiff bands of tissue called adhesions develop. In many cases, there is less synovial fluid in the joint.

The hallmark symptoms of this condition is being unable to move your shoulder – either on your own or with the help of someone else. It develops in three stages:

Freezing
In the “freezing” stage, you slowly have more and more pain. As the pain worsens, your shoulder loses range of motion. Freezing typically lasts from 6 weeks to 9 months.

Frozen
Painful symptoms may actually improve during this stage, but the stiffness remains. During the 4 to 6 months of the “frozen” stage, daily activities may be very difficult.

Thawing
Shoulder motion slowly improves during the “thawing” stage. Complete return to normal or close to normal strength and motion typically takes from 6 months to 2 years.

frozen shoulder

Image from AAOS.org

Cause

The causes of frozen shoulder are not fully understood. There is no clear connection to arm dominance or occupation. A few factors may put you more at risk for developing frozen shoulder.

Diabetes. Frozen shoulder occurs much more often in people with diabetes, affecting 10% to 20% of these individuals. The reason for this is not known.

Other diseases. Some additional medical problems associated with frozen shoulder include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, and cardiac disease.

Immobilization. Frozen shoulder can develop after a shoulder has been immobilized for a period of time due to surgery, a fracture, or other injury. Having patients move their shoulders soon after injury or surgery is one measure prescribed to prevent frozen shoulder.

 

For a comprehensive consultation to determine the most suitable type of frozen shoulder treatment for you, contact us to make an appointment with our internationally renowned sports and joints surgeon , Dr Kevin Lee. Visit Dr Kevin Lee’s Google+ page.

 





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