Frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule of connective tissue that surrounds the shoulder thickens and contracts, leading to stiffness and pain from restricted movement.

Causes of frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder generally affects adults ages 40 to 60 and can be caused by conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s, or cardiac disease. It can also result from immobilizing the shoulder too long after an injury, which is why a vital part of any shoulder recovery is physical therapy.

What are the symptoms?

Frozen shoulder may cause any of the symptoms below, which warrant a visit to a specialist:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Limited range of motion in the shoulder
  • Feeling that shoulder is “stuck” in place
  • Soreness
  • Stiffness

How is it diagnosed?

The orthopedic physicians at MedStar Health are experts at diagnosing the full range of shoulder problems. An initial exam may include:

  • Medical history evaluation: Your orthopedist will ask you questions about when your pain began, whether it affects one or both shoulders, and when the pain feels most severe. Other questions may be about previous injuries, whether you have other medical problems, and if you take any medications
  • Physical exam: Your orthopedist will examine your shoulder and arm to evaluate your pain, strength, and range of motion
  • Imaging tests: Your doctor may want to examine the bones and joints surrounding the shoulder using X-rays

Frozen shoulder treatment

Physicians typically treat this condition with anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy, which is successful in 90 percent of cases. For those who don't experience relief after physical therapy, surgical procedures are available to help regain motion.