Frozen Shoulder – The 13 Most Frequently Asked Questions


Contributed  by: Rachana Arya



Frozen shoulder – also called adhesive capsulitis – is a common, disabling but self-limiting condition, which typically presents as pain and stiffness in the shoulder. Experts do not know for sure what causes frozen shoulder, but they suspect it develops due to inflammation of the shoulder joint

Let us explore some commonly asked questions about the debilitating condition.


FAQ #1: What is a frozen shoulder? 

It is a condition that affects your shoulder joint. It is caused by the inflammation, scarring, thickening, and shrinkage of the capsule that surrounds the normal shoulder joint. The capsule becomes so thick and tight that it ultimately results in significant restriction in both the active and passive range of shoulder motion.


FAQ #2: What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder?

The common signs of this condition are:


    • Severe pain and stiffness over the outer shoulder area and sometimes the upper arm. 
    • Inability to move your shoulder — either on your own or with the help of someone else.
    • Pain that gets worse at night, making it hard to sleep.


FAQ #3: Is frozen shoulder related to aging?

While anyone can develop this condition, you are more likely to develop a frozen shoulder if you are over 40.


FAQ #4: Do stress and anxiety lead to frozen shoulders?

While stress is not the major cause of frozen shoulder, it may be one of a number of contributory factors. Prolonged levels of stress, depression, and anxiety cause increased pain and limb disability. As tension gathers in the shoulders, it causes tightness and impacts the shoulder’s range of motion. Therefore, sustained stress or anxiety is a common finding in patients suffering from frozen shoulder.


FAQ #5: What are the three stages of frozen shoulder?

This condition develops in three stages:


    • Freezing stage (lasting anywhere from 6 to 9 months): In this stage, the pain increases gradually. As the pain worsens, it makes shoulder motion harder and harder. Pain tends to be worse at night.
    • Frozen (lasting anywhere from 4 to 12 months): Pain does not worsen, and it may decrease at this stage. But the shoulder remains stiff making daily activities very difficult.
    • Thawing (lasting anywhere from 6 to 2 years): Movement gets easier and strength and motion eventually return to normal or close to normal.


FAQ# 6: What happens if a frozen shoulder is not treated?

If left untreated, frozen shoulder may lead to:


    • Increased pain in the shoulders
    • Loss of mobility
    • Reduced range of motion


FAQ #7: Is it okay to massage a frozen shoulder?

While massages are extremely beneficial for treating frozen shoulder pain, it is important to check with your doctor before adding any massages to your routine. It’s true that massages can feel great and most patients find that massage helps to relieve tension and tightness, yet medical consultation before opting for massage therapy is highly recommended. 


FAQ #8: Who is at a higher risk of developing a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder also seems to be more common among people who :


    • Have diabetes 
    • Have lung disease
    • Have breast cancer
    • Have diseases affecting the thyroid gland
    • Have been immobilized for prolonged periods
    • Have suffered from a stroke
    • Have Parkinson disease
    • Have taken antiretroviral medications to treat HIV infection
    • Have suffered from some shoulder injury


FAQ #9: Is there surgery for a frozen shoulder?

The majority of frozen shoulders may be cured with physiotherapy, but others may require surgery if they don’t respond to conventional therapies. The capsular release is an arthroscopic (keyhole) operation that allows the shoulder joint to move more freely by cutting the tight capsular tissues around it.


FAQ #10:  Can I lift weights with a frozen shoulder?

It is recommended that you should avoid heavy lifting and movements that cause you pain. Sleeping on the same side for long periods of time is also not advisable. Twice a day, gently massage the afflicted region with lukewarm oil.


FAQ #11: What is the difference between a frozen shoulder and a torn rotator cuff?

Two of the most frequent shoulder disorders that orthopedic surgeons treat on a daily basis are rotator cuff tears and frozen shoulders. A rotator cuff injury is frequently confused with a frozen shoulder, however, they are different.

Your arm’s range of motion may be limited due to a rotator cuff injury, but you can still lift it manually. A frozen shoulder, on the other hand, is characterized by pain and a limited range of motion.


FAQ #12: Is it advisable to wear a sling for a frozen shoulder?

Wearing a sling with a frozen shoulder is not suggested because it will merely impede your shoulder joint’s movement. If you’re using a sling due to shoulder surgery, consult your doctor before removing it; however, if you have a frozen shoulder, a sling should not be used.


FAQ #13: As per Ayurveda what foods should you avoid with a frozen shoulder?

All vata-aggravating foods should be avoided by people with frozen shoulders. Avoid frozen foods, fizzy beverages, fast food, stale food, packaged foods, chips, popcorn, white flour) items, ice cream, and any stimulant such as tea, coffee, or alcohol. Turmeric is a wonderful spice with numerous health advantages. Its anti-inflammatory characteristics aid in the treatment of arthritic pain, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, and other joint and tendon issues. It relieves stiffness and muscle pain.


Final thoughts

If you have a frozen shoulder, the discomfort and stiffness it produces can restrict simple things like dressing and bathing, as well as work. If your shoulder pain persists day and night, interrupting your everyday activities, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis.


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