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What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, is pain and stiffness that develops gradually and gets worse over time. This impacts the shoulder capsule, becoming thick and tight, affecting the mobility and range-of-motion in the arm.

Frozen shoulder commonly develops in people between the ages of 40 and 60. After a period of worsening symptoms, the pain and stiffness subside. Although full recovery can take anywhere from 1 – 3 years.

What Causes Frozen Shoulder?

The cause of frozen shoulder is unclear. Certain medical conditions increase your risk of developing the problem:

  • Diabetes: 10% – 20% of people suffering from diabetes will get frozen shoulder

  • Stroke – Can develop from a medical condition.

  • Surgery – mastectomy keeps your arm from moving.

  • Heart disease/thyroid disease/Parkinson’s disease are known to develop frozen Shoulder.

Stages of Frozen Shoulder

There are three stages of frozen shoulder. With each stage there are distinct symptoms that can occur over several months:

  • Stage 1: Freezing Stage

    • Develop pain in the shoulder. This can be mild or severe and affect you while you move your arm. Pain and stiffness worsen over time and become more bothersome at night.

    • Symptoms can last 6 – 9 months.

    • Your range-of-motion is limited.

  • Stage 2: Frozen Stage

    • Pain may improve.

    • Stiffness may get worse.

    • Mobility in your shoulder decreases. Daily activities become harder

    • This stage can last 4 – 12 months

  • Stage 3: Thawing stage

    • Range-of-motion gradually improves.

    • Will return to normal or close to normal strength

    • This stage can last 6mo – 2 yrs

How to Diagnose Frozen Shoulder

If you suspect that you are suffering from frozen shoulder speak to your doctor to underline the condition and diagnose the problem. Your doctor may send you to physical therapy to further evaluate and treat the issue.

Care for Frozen Shoulder

At Bright Star Physical Therapy our therapists are dedicated to your needs. To help ensure that you get the best results possible. Our team is highly knowledgeable and professionally trained to evaluate and treat you accordingly to your diagnoses.


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