Frozen Shoulder

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen Shoulder is a situation that is characterized with pain and stiffness in the shoulder. When you have a frozen shoulder, scar tissues form inside your shoulder capsule making it tight, swell and thick. This reduces space for your upper arm bone in the joint and consequently limiting your movement. There are three development stages you go through when suffering from frozen shoulder:

Shoulder muscles


Stage 1: Freezing

In this stage you feel more pain which makes your shoulder lose motion. It can last from 6 weeks to 9 months.

Stage 2: Frozen

You feel little pain but stiffness in your shoulder still remains. You cannot do daily duties during 4 to 6 months of this stage.

Stage 3: Thawing

In this stage, you can move your shoulder but gradually. Experts predict that between 6months to 2 years, your shoulder will be complete to normal strength or close and motion improved.

Frozen Shoulder Anatomy

Trigger Factors of Frozen Shoulder

Causes of frozen shoulders are not clearly known, but some factors have been identified that increases your risk of developing it. They include


People at ages of 40-60 are high risk of being affected by frozen shoulders.


Both men and women are affected by this condition. But 70% of women are at a higher risk of being affected than men. This is due to hormonal imbalance in women.


Stroke affects the nerves around your shoulder which can cause frozen shoulder.

Existing medical condition

When you are suffering from an inflammatory medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease, you are at risk of getting frozen shoulder

Poor lifestyle

Smoking, high levels of mental stress, sedentary lifestyle can increase levels of inflammation in your body which causes frozen shoulder.

Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

  • You experience aching or dull pain in the outer area of your shoulder which is usually worse in the initial stages.
  • Areas in and around your shoulder becomes stiff. This occurs in one shoulder at a time.


Your doctor can diagnose your frozen shoulder through physical assessment of your shoulder after discussing your symptoms. Your doctor will move your shoulder gently in all directions to ascertain if movement is limited and you feel pain during motion. X-rays can be used to determine whether your symptoms are as a result of any other diseases or broken bone.


The cure for a frozen shoulder varies among people. It mostly depends on the phase of the condition and severity of your pain and stiffness. This condition can get better without treatment for some people; although recovery can take longer. While for other people the condition will not improve for a long time.

Several treatments can be used to treat a frozen shoulder in their stages such as

Initial Phase Treatment

The initial phase of a frozen shoulder is very painful. Therefore, treatment in this stage focuses on reducing your pain. You will be issued with the following medication:


Your doctor will prescribe the following painkillers to you if you have pain:

  • Paracetamol
  • A mixture of paracetamol and codeine
  • A non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDS)

Most people can take NSAIDS medicines but you need to seek for a doctor or pharmacist advice if you:

  • are expectant
  • Have asthma
  • Are breastfeeding
  • have stomach ulcers

Moreover NSAIDS medications can make you develop headaches, stomach ulcers and indigestion .If you experience any of these side effects see you doctor for further advice.

Corticosteroid injections

They help reduce pain and inflammation through an injection. Corticosteroid injections can be used if painkillers cannot control your pain. These injections may damage your shoulder if you have many of them as well as they become ineffective over time.

Later Phase of Treatment

Stiffness is the main symptom you experience with a frozen shoulder after the initial painful stage. In this phase, your doctor may recommend the following:

Shoulder exercises

Depending on the degree of your shoulders stiffness, your doctor will suggest stretching exercises or a physiotherapist for you when your shoulders are very stiff. You will be taught to make regular and gentle stretching exercises to make your shoulder mobile.

Frozen Shoulder Exercises


A physiotherapist will guide you to keep movement and make shoulder flexible. A physiotherapist can use the following techniques to help you:


The physiotherapist uses their hands to massage your shoulder to help relief pain and stiffness.

Movement and exercise

Your physiotherapist will customize exercises to your shoulder and help you exercise regularly. This is done to help you move your shoulder.


This method uses needles which are inserted in your shoulder to help reduce pain and promote recovery.

Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation

In this technique, the physiotherapist uses a device with a battery to produce an electric current to your shoulder in order to relief pain.


Your doctor can suggest surgery if your symptoms are very severe and other treatment failed to work after six month. An orthopedic surgeon treats you by using any of the following procedure:

Manipulation under an aesthetic

In this procedure, the orthopedic surgeon moves your shoulder in a controlled manner while you are under general anesthesia. After this procedure, you will undergo Corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and swelling in your shoulder.

Arthroscopic capsular release

This is where your doctor makes two or three small incisions around your shoulder and inserts an arthroscope in one of the incisions so as to view inside of the shoulder. High frequency wave is used to cut the thick part in your shoulder and thus enhance your movement.

Arthrographic distension (hydrodilation)

In this procedure, the orthopedic surgeon conducts surgery using local anesthesia and corticosteroids to treat your frozen shoulder. In all this procedures, you are supposed to see a physiotherapist to help you regain movement in your shoulder.

Natural Treatment

You can prevent frozen shoulder by using natural methods such as

  • You need to develop a simple exercise program for your frozen shoulder. You can warm up your shoulder by taking a warm bath to help boost blood to the affected area, stretch and move your shoulder until you feel mild tension.
  • Eat a diet that has fresh vegetables, avocado, cage-free eggs and fruits as well as avoid other factors that cause inflammation such as mental stress, obese and smoking.

Reference List


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