Frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, involves stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. Signs and symptoms typically begin slowly, then get worse. Over time, symptoms get better, usually within 1 to 3 years.
Having to keep a shoulder still for a long period increases the risk of developing frozen shoulder. This might happen after having surgery or breaking an arm.
Treatment for frozen shoulder involves range-of-motion exercises. Sometimes treatment involves corticosteroids and numbing medications injected into the joint. Rarely, arthroscopic surgery is needed to loosen the joint capsule so that it can move more freely.
It’s unusual for frozen shoulder to recur in the same shoulder. But some people can develop it in the other shoulder, usually within five years.
Frozen shoulder typically develops slowly in three stages.
For some people, the pain worsens at night, sometimes disrupting sleep.
The shoulder joint is enclosed in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement.
It’s unclear why this happens to some people. But it’s more likely to happen after keeping a shoulder still for a long period, such as after surgery or an arm fracture.
Certain factors may increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder.
People 40 and older, particularly women, are more likely to have frozen shoulder.
People who’ve had to keep a shoulder somewhat still are at higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. Restricted movement can be the result of many factors, including:
People who have certain diseases appear more likely to develop frozen shoulder. Diseases that might increase risk include:
One of the most common causes of frozen shoulder is not moving a shoulder while recovering from a shoulder injury, broken arm or stroke. If you’ve had an injury that makes it difficult to move your shoulder, talk to your health care provider about exercises that can help you maintain your ability to move your shoulder joint.