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  • Writer's pictureSara Theresa

Stiff Shoulder? Could it be Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsuliti, occurs when the bones and connective tissue of the shoulder joint become inflamed and form scar tissue. The inflammation and stiffness can gradually occur, sometimes dramatically limiting movement of the shoulder joint. Frozen shoulder does not usually recur in the same shoulder, however, it can sometimes appear in the opposite shoulder.

The shoulder is a joint and is made up of a ball and socket between the scapula and the humerus. It is one of the most mobile joints in the human body. This means that the shoulder is built for a large degree of flexibility. Although the shoulder joint is a strong and flexible joint in your body, it does take much support from the surrounding muscles and tendons.

I was teaching a fitness class several years ago and one of my students said they did not do any of the arm movements that required them to bring their arm over their head. This is what led me to research and understand that frozen shoulder is a common occurrence. How Do You Know If You Have a Frozen Shoulder?

  • Any movement of your shoulder causes pain.

  • The range of motion in your shoulder is limited. You may notice this during every day movements or workouts that require you to lift your hands above shoulder level.

  • Using your arm with shoulder rotation/movement becomes difficult.

  • The pain increases at night and sometimes impairs your sleep.

Risk Factors for Frozen Shoulder

  • Having an endocrine condition such as diabetes or thyroid disease, including both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism: "Though the link between thyroid disease and frozen shoulder remains uncertain, research has revealed some possible connections with both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism." (1)

  • Age and gender: People 40 and older, particularly women, are more likely to have frozen shoulder.

  • Injuries or surgeries that limit the use of your arm and shoulder: People who've had prolonged immobility or reduced mobility of the shoulder are at higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. (2)

How To Treat Frozen Shoulder You should consult with a medical professional about your frozen shoulder to get a deeper assessment on what the issue might be. Just like you slowly develop frozen shoulder, you can expect a slow "thawing" of your shoulder when actively working on your recovery. Remember, recovery may take an action on a daily basis (even if that action is recovery and rest). Videos to assist with recovery are below: Video 1 Video 2 How to Keep Your Shoulders Mobile and Functioning, Even If You Are Not Experiencing Frozen Shoulder It is a healthy practice to keep all of your joints healthy and within their healthy range of motion. Even if you do not suffer from frozen shoulder and want to work on your shoulder mobility, try this video here.


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