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Frozen Shoulder

Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder commonly affects people from 40-65, especially those with a history of diabetes and thyroid problems. Those with frozen shoulder have progressive loss of range of motion in the affected shoulder and pain associated with any shoulder motion. The three stages of frozen shoulder are freezing (highlighted by pain), frozen (highlighted by stiffness), and thawing (highlighted by improvement).

What causes Frozen Shoulder?

The cause of frozen shoulder is not fully known, but risk factors include:

  • Diabetes: Not only does the condition occur more frequently with those who have diabetes, but diabetic patients also experience more stiffness and a longer recovery period.
  • Other diseases: Frozen shoulder is also linked to those with thyroid conditions, Parkinson’s, and cardiac disease.
  • Immobilization: Following a period of arm immobilization for an injury or surgery, patients are at greater risk of developing a frozen shoulder.
  • Gender: Frozen shoulder occurs more often in women.

How do you know you have Frozen Shoulder?

Two common signs of frozen shoulder are:

  • Dull or aching pain that increases
  • Loss of shoulder motion

How does OSI fix Frozen Shoulder?

An OSI orthopedic shoulder specialist will examine you for signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder. You can expect one or more of the following to confirm your frozen shoulder and help determine the best course of treatment to relieve your pain and increase your mobility.

  • Physical exam: Your OSI doctor will discuss your symptoms and general medical history and examine your shoulder. Your doctor will move your shoulder carefully to assess movement limitations and to see if pain accompanies the motion.
  • Imaging: X-rays or MRIs may be ordered to rule out other issues in the shoulder.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Frozen shoulder typically improves on its own, although it can take two or three years for symptoms to be alleviated. The vast majority of patients will recover from frozen shoulder through conservative methods, including:

  • Physical therapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Steroid injections

Surgical Treatment

Your OSI physician may recommend surgery if nonsurgical methods are not effective. The goal of frozen shoulder surgery is to stretch and release the stiffened joint capsule. The most common surgical method to release the tissue around the shoulder joint is an arthroscopy surgery, followed by manipulation.


Recovery times vary. Following your OSI orthopedic surgeon’s prescribed physical therapy regimen is a key factor in returning to activities. OSI offers onsite physical therapy, so it is convenient and allows your doctor to closely follow your recovery.