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The Why's, Who's and What's of a Frozen Shoulder

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Shoulder being treated

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that can cause pain and limited mobility in the shoulder joint. It can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but the good news is that it's usually temporary. In this blog, we'll explore why frozen shoulder occurs, who is at risk, whether it goes away by itself, how long the recovery period is, and if it can come back.

So, why does frozen shoulder occur? The short answer is that we don't always know. In some cases, it can be related to an injury or surgery that affects the shoulder, but in many cases, it seems to come out of nowhere. One theory is that it's related to inflammation in the joint capsule, which can cause it to become stiff and tight. This, in turn, can limit the mobility of the shoulder and cause pain.

Who is at risk for frozen shoulder? Anyone can develop it, but some people are more likely to experience it than others. Women are more likely than men to develop frozen shoulder, and it's also more common in people over the age of 40. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid disorders, can also increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder.

Does frozen shoulder go away by itself? The good news is that, in most cases, frozen shoulder will eventually go away on its own. The bad news is that it can take quite some time – up to two years in some cases. However, there are things you can do to help speed up the recovery process, such as doing shoulder exercises and stretching regularly. Manipulation, through massage and physical therapy or other treatments may help to alleviate the pain and stiffness and speed up the recovery process.

How long is the recovery period for frozen shoulder? As mentioned earlier, the recovery period can be quite long – up to two years. However, this is not always the case, and some people may recover more quickly. The length of the recovery period can depend on a number of factors, such as the severity of the condition, the age and overall health of the person, how well they adhere to treatment recommendations and how consistently they do self care practices. For tips on how to relieve a frozen shoulder check out my earlier blog.

Can frozen shoulder come back? Unfortunately, yes. Once you've had frozen shoulder, you are at a higher risk of developing it again in the future. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risk, such as maintaining good shoulder health through regular exercise and stretching. If you do start to experience symptoms of frozen shoulder again, it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent it from getting worse.

To sum up frozen shoulder is a condition that can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but it's usually temporary. If you feel you may be developing frozen shoulder, it's important to get it checked out by either your doctor or a soft tissue specialist. In doing so, you can help reduce your risk of developing further or again if you have had it previously.


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