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Frozen Shoulder Treatment: Regaining Mobility and Freedom

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Frozen Shoulder Treatment: Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by a stiff and painful shoulder joint. It typically affects people between the ages of 40 and 60, and is more common in women than men. The good news is that with proper treatment, most people with frozen shoulder can regain full range of motion and pain-free movement.

Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder typically progresses through three stages:

  • Freezing stage: This stage is characterized by a gradual decrease in shoulder mobility and increasing pain. The pain may be worse at night and interfere with sleep.
  • Frozen stage: During this stage, the shoulder joint becomes very stiff and movement is severely limited. Pain may improve somewhat, but it is still present.
  • Thawing stage: This stage is characterized by a gradual improvement in shoulder mobility. The pain may continue to improve, but it can take several months to a year to regain full range of motion.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder

The exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown, but it is believed to be related to inflammation and thickening of the shoulder capsule, the tissue that surrounds the shoulder joint. This can occur due to:

  • Injury: A shoulder injury, such as a rotator cuff tear, can increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder.
  • Immobilization: Prolonged immobilization of the shoulder, such as after surgery or a broken arm, can also lead to frozen shoulder.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and thyroid disease, are also associated with an increased risk of frozen shoulder.

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Treatment Options for Frozen Shoulder

The primary goal of treatment for frozen shoulder is to improve range of motion and reduce pain. There are several treatment options available, including:

Treatment Options for Frozen Shoulder

1. Non-surgical Treatments:

  • Physical therapy: This is the cornerstone of treatment for frozen shoulder. A physical therapist will teach you specific exercises to help stretch and strengthen the shoulder muscles and improve joint mobility.
  • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and acetaminophen (Tylenol), can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid injections: Injections of corticosteroids into the shoulder joint can provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation.
  • Ice therapy: Applying ice to the shoulder for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Heat therapy: Applying heat to the shoulder before stretching can help to relax the muscles and improve flexibility.

2. Surgical Treatments:

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to improve range of motion in the shoulder joint. This is typically only considered if non-surgical treatments have not been effective after several months. Two common types of surgery for frozen shoulder include:

  • Arthroscopy: This is a minimally invasive surgery that involves making small incisions in the shoulder and using a camera to guide the surgeon in releasing the tight tissues around the joint.
  • Manipulation under anesthesia: This procedure involves stretching the shoulder joint under general anesthesia.

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Preventing Frozen Shoulder

There is no guaranteed way to prevent frozen shoulder, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk:

Preventing Frozen Shoulder
  • Maintain good posture: Good posture helps to keep your shoulders aligned and reduces stress on the shoulder joint.
  • Stay active: Regular exercise helps to keep your joints flexible and strong.
  • Avoid prolonged immobilization: If you have to immobilize your shoulder for any reason, be sure to do range-of-motion exercises as soon as possible.
  • Manage underlying medical conditions: If you have a medical condition that increases your risk of frozen shoulder, such as diabetes, be sure to work with your doctor to manage it effectively.

Prognosis for Frozen Shoulder

With proper treatment, most people with frozen shoulder can regain full range of motion and pain-free movement. However, it is important to be patient, as it can take several months to a year to recover from this condition.

Additional Tips for Recovering from Frozen Shoulder:

  • Stay motivated: Recovery from frozen shoulder can be a long process, but it is important to stay motivated. Set realistic goals and track your progress to stay on track.
  • Listen to your body: Don’t push yourself too hard, and take breaks when you need them.
  • Be patient: It takes time to regain full range of motion in your shoulder. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away.
  • Talk to your doctor: If you have any concerns about your recovery, be sure to talk to your doctor.


Frozen shoulder can be a painful and debilitating condition, but with proper treatment and a positive attitude, most people can make a full recovery. Living with a frozen shoulder can be challenging, but with the right treatment approach, relief is possible. If you suspect you have a frozen shoulder, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Early diagnosis and intervention play a crucial role in managing the condition effectively. By incorporating a combination of medical treatments, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes, you can regain mobility and reduce the impact of a frozen shoulder on your daily life. Remember, each individual’s journey with frozen shoulder is unique, so consult with your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable treatment plan for your specific needs.

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