Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis, in the medical terms, refer to a restricted mobility of the shoulder joint due to swelling and stiffening of the articular shoulder ligament that surrounds the joint.  This term has often been used to refer to arthritis, which is a gross misrepresentation since frozen shoulder represents the shoulder joint, while arthritis may refer to other/multiple joints. It is commonly found in people between 40 and 60 years of age with women being more prone to suffer from frozen shoulder.

The shoulder is made up of spheroidal joint, which is a ball & socket joint, in which the round part of round head of the upper arm bone fits into the socket of the shoulder blade. Frozen shoulder happens when a scar tissue builds up in the shoulder, making the shoulder joint’s capsule thicken and tighten, making movements difficult and painful.

Understanding Frozen Shoulder Risk Factors

  • Age: People in the age group of 40-60 years are more prone
  • Gender:  Women are more prone than men
  • Recent surgery or arm fracture
  • Diabetes:  Though the reasons are unknown, diabetic patients are two to four times more likely to develop frozen shoulder than normal individuals
  • Medical conditions like hyperthyroid and hypothyroid, CVS and Parkinson’s’ disease
  • Medical conditions: Recovery from a medical condition that restricts movement of arms like stroke or a mastectomy, may make the shoulder joint stiff and lead to frozen shoulder

Signs and Symptoms

Frozen shoulder usually comprises of three stages:

  • Painful Stage: It is the most initial stage and involves the shoulder getting stiff and very painful, with minimum or limited movement. Movement becomes limited.
  • Frozen/Adhesive Stage: this is when the shoulder starts getting increasingly stiff and painful restricting the range of motion.
  • Thawing Stage: This is the stage where improvement begins to reflect and shoulder movement begins to improve. Pain may also decrease.

Also, read about: Athlete’s Foot Meaning.

Treatment Options

The main strategy is to control the pain and managing the range of motion in the shoulder.


OTC pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), helps in subduing the pain and inflammation associated with frozen shoulder.


A physio-therapist can offer great help in the treatment of frozen shoulder facilitating you to learn range-of-motion exercises. These help in improving mobility in your shoulder.

Other alternative treatment plans:

  • Steroid injections: Use of corticosteroids to mitigate pain and improve shoulder mobility, is advisable in cases of extreme pain and no movement.
  • Shoulder manipulation: In this procedure, the doctor would move your shoulder in different directions to loosen the scar tissue. All this is done under anesthesia to avoid feeling any pain.
  • Surgery: Surgery is the last resort and may be used in rare cases.

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[author title=”Dr Sunil Rajan” image=”″]Dr. Sunil Rajan is an Orthopedist. He has experience of 21 years in this field. Dr. Rajan has completed his MBBS from MGM Indore and MS – Orthopaedics from JMC Bhopal in 1996. Some of the services provided by him are Neck and Spine Biopsy, Spine Mobilization, Ligament and Tendon Repair and Knee Arthroplasty etc[/author]
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