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What is Frozen Shoulder?

If you find that you are having a lot of pain, stiffness and trouble when it comes to moving your shoulder, you might have a condition called frozen shoulder.

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a condition that affects your shoulder joint. It usual starts with a gradual increase in pain and stiffness that will get worse at first and then finally go away. This can take up to as long as three years or last as short as one year.

How Does It Happen?

Your shoulder is made up of three bones that form a ball and socket joint. These bones are your upper arm, your shoulder blade and your collarbone. These bones have tissue that surrounds them that holds everything together. This tissue is called the shoulder capsule.

When you get frozen shoulder, the shoulder capsule becomes so thick and tight that it’s hard to move. Scar tissue forms and synovial fluid (which keeps the joints lubricated) does not get produced as much. A combination of everything will lead to the limitation of motion.

What are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of frozen shoulder are:

  • Pain and stiffness
  • Dull or achy pain in one shoulder
  • Pain in the shoulder muscles around the top of your arm
  • Pain might get increased at night

There are usually three phases when it comes to frozen shoulder:

Phase 1: Freezing Stage

You will develop a pain in your shoulder any time you move it, and it will slowly get worse over time. You get limited in how far you can move your shoulder. This can last from six to nine months.

Phase 2: Frozen Stage

Your pain might decrease, but the stiffness will get worse. Moving your shoulder will become more difficult and it will be hard to do regular, everyday activities. This stage can last from four to twelve months.

Phase 3: Thawing Stage

Your range of motion will slowly go back to normal. This stage can take six months to two years.

What Causes It?

There is no true concrete reason as to what causes frozen shoulder, but studies have shown that there are specific groups that are more at risk:

  • More likely to occur in women than men
  • More likely to get it if you are between 40 to 60 years old
  • More at risk if you are in the process of recovering from a stroke/surgery
  • More at risk if you have certain medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease and thyroid disease
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