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Unable to move shoulder due to stiffness & pain? This could be the reason!

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It’s winter! Is that why Frozen Shoulders happen?


Frozen shoulders have nothing to do with the season - cold or otherwise. This condition is caused due to limited or no movement to the shoulder, when arm movement is kept to the minimum to help easy recovery from stroke or surgery.

It’s a condition that causes shoulder pain (mild to severe) and makes shoulder & arm movement difficult. It is also called ‘periarthritis’ or simply ‘painful stiff shoulder’.

What causes a Frozen Shoulder?

This condition usually affects only one shoulder at a time and can get better on its own. However, it is known to last up to 2 or 3 years. There are instances where it has spread to the other shoulder as well.

The reasons for this occurrence are ascribed to shoulder injuries, bone fractures or a surgery involving the shoulder. Even for cases of heart surgery, Frozen Shoulders have occurred. The main trigger is that during these situations, it is advised not to move the arm or shoulder in order to help in recovery. Prolonged lack of arm/shoulder movement can lead to frozen shoulders.

Other diseases or medical conditions which can trigger Frozen Shoulders are:

  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid issues
  • Stroke cases
  • Parkinson’s
  • Being immobilized for a long period
Frozen Shoulder is a fairly common occurrence in people above 50 years. It seems to affect women more than men.

Sometimes, however, Frozen Shoulder’s causes can be unknown or undetermined. The science behind this condition is inflammation of the shoulder joint or formation of scar tissue within the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder. This causes the tissues to harden or shrink, thus restricting the full range of motion of the arm/shoulder.

  • Freezing Stage: Beginning of pain in shoulder during minimal movement. Can last 6-9 months with worsening pain and is known to hurt more during nights.
  • Frozen Stage: Pain may be manageable at this stage but stiffness is worsened. Handling day-to-day activities can be difficult. This stage can last up to 1 year.
  • Thawing Stage: Reaching this stage can take anywhere from 5 months to 2 years. Pain is certainly better and the shoulder’s range of motion starts to get back to normal.

When experiencing similar symptoms, it is highly advisable to consult an expert Orthopedician or even a primary care-giver. Alerting the medical personnel in time, helps in identifying better treatment options.

How to prepare for the appointment?

  • Go prepared with a full description of symptoms.
  • Keep a list of medical issues experienced.
  • Hereditary health conditions, if any, would be needed to share.
  • Keep a list of medications prescribed for daily use and any dietary supplements being followed.
There are 3 phases for a Frozen Shoulder. The time period ranges from 4 months to 2 years or sometimes longer

Treatment Options for Frozen Shoulder:

Treatment for this condition is majorly physical therapy which is mostly prescribed. Slow and regular building exercises are recommended by the expert which help is gaining minimal motion back.

  • Pain management is suggested depending on the severity.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication may be suggested as well for the rate of inflammation within the joint
  • Steroid Injections
  • Shoulder Manipulation - under anesthesia
  • Surgery - this option is rarely suggested. Usually after 1 or 1.5 years of no improvement of the condition. Under surgery there are 2 options to consider depending on the severity of the case:
    1. Surgical removal of scar tissue within the joint to enable better range of motion. It is a minimally invasive Arthroscopy procedure.
    2. Full joint replacement surgery for extremely rare cases, as per the discretion of the Orthopedic Surgeon.

It is advisable to be aware of the changes in the body and keep medical professionals informed of the same for optimum health care.

For scheduling a health check-up or a consultation with an Orthopedic specialist, please contact Star Hospitals at
+91-9100 911 911


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