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Frozen shoulder

What is frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder – also known as adhesive capsulitis – produces stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint, which can be severe. The condition, which can last from twelve months to two years, usually comes on gradually with three progressing phases:

  • Freezing – you start to experience a more limited range of motion in your shoulder and significant pain when you try to move it due to inflammation in the capsule. As you then move your shoulder less you enter a vicious cycle and progress to the next stage.
  • Frozen – your shoulder becomes stiffer and harder to move, although pain levels may diminish as the inflammation in the capsule settles but it also becomes thicker.
  • Thawing – the range of movement in your shoulder gradually starts to improve and returns to normal.

What causes a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule of connective tissue that surrounds your shoulder thickens and tightens, restricting its movement. Doctors are not completely clear on why this occurs in some people, but certain factors are known to increase your risk of developing a frozen shoulder. These include:

  • Certain diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, tuberculosis and diseases affecting the thyroid
  • Age – a frozen shoulder is more common in people over the age of forty. Women are more likely than men to be affected
  • Reduced mobility in the shoulder – if you have a prolonged period of reduced mobility in your shoulder, as a result of trauma, rotator cuff injury or surgery for example

Frozen shoulder

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