Frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder. Over time, the shoulder becomes very hard to move. Frozen shoulder occurs in about 2% of the general population. It most commonly affects people between the ages of 40 and 60, and occurs in women more often than men. The cause of adhesive capsulitis is not clear but there have been some links to people with diabetes having an increased risk.
In frozen shoulder, the shoulder capsule thickens and becomes tight. Stiff bands of tissue — called adhesions — develop. The hallmark sign of this condition is being unable to move your shoulder - either on your own or with the help of someone else. It develops in three stages:
- Freezing - In the"freezing" stage, you slowly have more and more pain. As the pain worsens, your shoulder loses range of motion. Freezing typically lasts from 6 weeks to 9 months.
- Frozen - Painful symptoms may actually improve during this stage, but the stiffness remains. During the 4 to 6 months of the "frozen" stage, daily activities may be very difficult.
- Thawing - Shoulder motion slowly improves during the "thawing" stage. Complete return to normal or close to normal strength and motion typically takes from 6 months to 2 years.