Frozen Shoulder

What is frozen shoulder?

Adhesive capsulitis, popularly called as frozen shoulder, refers to the pain, stiffness and limited range of movement in your shoulder. If you have frozen shoulders, it means that the tissues around your joints stiffen, causing scars on the tissues and make the movements of your shoulders painful and difficult.

It could be a result of an injury or diabetes or stroke or excessive use of the shoulders. Usually, it comes slowly and goes away slowly, in around a year or more.


The symptoms that can occur with frozen shoulder are:

  • Pain in the shoulder
  • Limited movement leading to stiffness
  • Not being able to do everyday tasks in severe as dressing up or getting ready 


Frozen shoulder can be a result of several conditions including:

  • Surgery
  • Injury
  • Lessened use of shoulder due to injury, pain, surgery, diabetes or stroke
  • Not using the shoulders for full range of motion
  • Chronic illnesses


Generally, frozen shoulders occur in postmenopausal women and men at the age of forty to seventy years.

Some other risks of frozen shoulder include:

  • Women and men over the age of forty
  • Those with prolonged immobility of the shoulders due to causes like rotator cuff injury, broken arm, surgical recuperation
  • Diabetes
  • Malfunctioning thyroid
  • Parkinson's disease 


If you have had an injury that reduces the movement of your shoulders, undertake:

  • Mild exercises
  • Stretching
  • Regaining lost motion

How is it diagnosed?

If you have limited movements in your shoulder, your doctor at Medanta might suspect the possibility of a frozen shoulder. The doctor might use an imaging technique like:


How is it treated?

At Medanta, our experts treat frozen shoulder in the following methods:


  • Medical therapy

    Medical therapy involves using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Aspirin or Ibuprofen is used to ease the pain in the shoulder area. Sometimes, a steroid injection may also be used to treat the condition.
    Most of the time, frozen shoulder gets better with time. Within the duration of one year to three years, you can get back to normal and be fully functional. While some people prefer to leave the condition untreated, it could result in excessive pain and limited range of motion. Right medication at the right time could save you from grievous amounts of pain and suffering. 

  • Heat therapy

    Heat can be applied on the shoulder area, to reduce pain and induce natural healing of frozen shoulder.

  • Physical therapy

    Mild stretching exercises are taught to increase the movement of the shoulders. Being the most used treatment mode for frozen shoulder, physical therapy aims to stretch the joints of the shoulder, to regain lost motion. Gentle exercises are prescribed by the doctor and it might take a few months for the condition to cure. If you don't see progress after six months of intense, daily exercises, speak to your doctor about other options.

  • Ice therapy

    Ice packs can be kept over the shoulders for fifteen minutes on a regular basis, to reduce pain and swelling.

  • Surgical therapy

    In case other modes of treatment do not seem to be causing much effect, surgeries may be recommended to loosen some tight tissues of the shoulder. The aim of surgeries is to break open adhesives that cause frozen shoulder. If your frozen shoulder is the result of an injury, it is always suggested that the surgery be done within a few weeks of the occurrence of the injury, for the best possible recovery and relief. Often, two surgeries are carried out. In the first procedure called manipulation under anesthesia, your arms are moved into positions that stretch the tissues, while you are under the effect of anesthesia. In the second procedure, an arthroscope is used to cut through the tight and scarred tissues. An arthroscope is a small camera used to monitor the joints of the shoulder while the surgery is being performed. Both of these can be carried out at a stretch and the stitches can be removed within ten days. Many patients have their full range of motion back within three months after a surgery. Surgery could be risky. Therefore, be sure to consult a specialist before opting for a surgery. Postoperative physical therapy would be recommended too.

When do I contact the doctor?

If you find it difficult to carry out your day-to-day tasks due to decreased range of motion, pain and stiffness in your shoulders, do contact a doctor at the earliest.

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How does Medanta provide care?


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