Frozen shoulder is a condition that leads to pain and stiffness of the shoulder. It's also known as adhesive capsulitis or shoulder contracture.

The symptoms tend to gradually get worse over a number of months or years. You'll typically experience shoulder pain for the first two to nine months, which can be severe, followed by increasing stiffness.

The stiffness may affect your ability to carry out everyday activities. In particularly severe cases, you may not be able to move your shoulder at all.

The condition may improve with time, but this can sometimes take several years.

What causes frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulderoccurs whenthe flexible tissue that surrounds the shoulder joint, known as the capsule, becomes inflamedandthickened. It's not fully understood why this happens.

The following can increase your risk of developing a frozen shoulder:

  • a previous shoulder injury or shoulder surgery
  • diabetes
  • Dupuytren's contracture a condition where small lumps of thickened tissue form in the hands and fingers
  • other health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke

It's estimated that up to 1 in 20 people in the UK may be affected by frozen shoulder at some point in their life. Most people who get frozen shoulder are between the ages of 40 and 60. The condition is more common in women than men.

However, appropriate treatment can help reduce pain and improve the movement in your shoulder until it heals.

The type of treatment you receive will depend on how severe yourfrozen shoulder is and how far it's progressed.Possible treatment options include:

  • painkillers
  • corticosteroid injections
  • shoulder exercises
  • physiotherapy

If your symptoms haven't improved after six months, surgery may be recommended.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016