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Jul 20, 2022

What is Frozen Shoulder & How to Diagnose? � Everything You Should Know About It

Posted by Dr Manu Bora in Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a disease that affects the joints in your shoulder. It usually begins with pain and stiffness that gradually worsens until finally disappearing. It could take anywhere from a year to three years to complete.

The socket-and-ball joint in your shoulder is made up of three bones. They are scapula (shoulder blade), the humerus (upper arm), and the collarbone (collarbone). Your shoulder joint is also surrounded by tissue that holds everything together. The shoulder capsule is what it's called.

The capsule thickens and tightens with a frozen shoulder, making it difficult to move. In addition, scar tissue forms in the joint, and synovial fluid, which keeps the joint lubricated, is depleted. These things make it much more challenging to move around.


The most common symptoms of a frozen shoulder are discomfort and stiffness, which make movement impossible or difficult.

You will experience an achy or dull pain in one shoulder if you have a frozen shoulder. The shoulder muscles which wrap over the upper part of your arm may also be in pain. You may be experiencing a similar sensation in your upper arm. Your pain may worsen at night, making it difficult to sleep.

With a frozen shoulder, you'll usually go through three stages. Each has its own set of symptoms as well as a timetable.

Stages of Frozen Shoulder

Stage of freezing:

  • You experience pain (sometimes severe) in your shoulder whenever you move it.
  • It gradually becomes worse over time and may hurt worse at night.
  • It can last anywhere from 6 to 9 months.

Frozen Stage:

  • Your discomfort may improve, but your stiffness may worsen; moving your shoulder will become more complicated, and daily activities will become more complex.
  • This stage can span anywhere from 4 to 12 months.

Stage of thawing:

  • Your range of motion gradually returns to normal.
  • It could take anywhere from six months to two years to complete.


The shoulder blade, collarbone, upper arm bone, or humerus are the three bones that make up the shoulder.

A ball-and-socket joint is found in the shoulder. The upper arm bone's spherical head inserts into this socket.

The shoulder capsule is a ring of connective tissue that surrounds the joint. The synovial fluid allows the joint to move freely.

Frozen shoulder is thought to be caused by the formation of scar tissue in the shoulder. As a result, the capsule of the shoulder joint thickens and tightens; as a result, leaving less capacity for mobility. As a result, your movements may become tight and unpleasant.

The actual reason is unknown, and it is not always possible to determine.

The majority of persons with frozen shoulders, on the other hand, have been immobilized as a result of a recent accident or fracture.

Diabetes patients are more likely to develop the illness.

What are the Risk Factors for Frozen Shoulder?

Although the frozen shoulder is not linked to many ailments, it is a higher risk for diabetics. Furthermore, there is a significant risk of recovering from any medical operation that requires arm movement, such as a stroke. According to a study, 10-20% of diabetic individuals suffer from frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder has also been linked to other medical conditions such as heart disease, thyroid disease, and Parkinson's disease. To avoid a frozen shoulder, it is critical for a person with diabetes to maintain their blood sugar under control. Regular exercise is also recommended for people with diabetes to keep their shoulders in motion.



Frozen shoulder diagnosis:

Your doctor will do a physical examination to diagnose a frozen shoulder. First, the medical practitioner assesses the severity of your pain by moving your shoulder. First, he will allow you to move your arm on your own to determine its range of motion. Then he'll move it for you to compare and contrast. For severe pain treatment, your doctor may administer an injection or pain relievers. A physical examination is sufficient to identify a frozen shoulder. Still, your doctor may order imaging tests such as X-rays, ultrasounds, and MRIs to rule out any other medical conditions that have similar symptoms to frozen shoulder, such as arthritis or a torn rotator cuff.

What are the possibilities for treating a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder treatment comprises numbing drugs and pain relief injections in the joint capsule, in addition to the range of motion exercises. It may provide temporary relief from the inflammation and soreness in the patient's shoulder. In reality, in extremely rare circumstances, persons with frozen shoulders undergo arthroscopic surgery to release the joint capsule and allow it to move more freely.

In some cases, the frozen shoulder does not reoccur in the same shoulder, but it can develop in the opposite shoulder. If you have frozen shoulder symptoms, you should see your doctor for further medical care. Range of motion exercises is used to recover from a frozen shoulder. You might also seek the assistance of a physiotherapist in this regard. Here are some exercises to do if you have a frozen shoulder:

1. Stretch the towel

Behind your back hold one end of a three-foot-long towel with one hand, and the other, grip the opposite end. Maintain a horizontal position with the towel. Next, pull the injured arm upward with your healthy arm to stretch it. Perform these exercises 10 to 20 times per day.

2. Take a finger walk

Finger walking is another exercise that can help with a stiff shoulder:

  • Place yourself in front of a wall that is neither too close nor too far away.
  • Slowly slide your fingers up and down on the wall, incorporating shoulder movement from the affected arm.
  • Raise and stretch your arm as much as possible.

The shoulder muscles will be opened up as a result of this. For best results, do this exercise at least twice or three times a day.

3. Elbow stretch with closed elbows

For frozen shoulder, a closed elbow stretch is beneficial. You will need the assistance of a physiotherapist or a family member or friend for this. Place the hand on your head and fold the elbow of your frozen shoulder arm. Then have someone else apply pressure to the arm as it moves upwards. Allowing the pain to rise is an excellent way to keep it under control. This will also aid in the opening of muscles and increased mobility.

4. The rod

You can do this exercise by holding a straight iron rod with one end in your left hand and the other in your right. After that, try stretching and moving the rod from left to right to get your shoulder and arm moving.

5. Pendulum Stretch

First, do this task. Allow your shoulders to relax. Allow the injured arm to dangle down while you stand and bend over slightly. Next, make a little circle with your arm, about a foot in diameter. Once a day, make ten revolutions in each direction. Increase the diameter of your swing as your symptoms improve, but never force it.


In addition, a stretching band can be used for movement in various activities. So there you have it: frozen shoulder symptoms, causes, risk factors, phases, diagnosis, and therapy. In addition to these exercises, a hot water bag and a warm bath can help relieve shoulder pain and swelling. Also, if you have limited shoulder motion and pain, see a physiotherapist or orthopaedic specialist for proper treatment and care.

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