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Frozen Shoulder

The first symptom you may have is shoulder pain. You may feel as if you’ve injured your shoulder.


Other symptoms you may have include:

  • Increased shoulder pain as you move your arm

  • Shoulder stiffness that makes it hard to get daily tasks done

  • Shoulder pain that keeps you from sleeping

  • An arm that you can’t raise or rotate beyond a certain point

Who Develops Frozen Shoulder?

Women are more likely than men to have frozen shoulder. This problem also occurs more often in women who are at least in their 40s. In some cases, people who have injured their shoulder may later develop frozen shoulder.

When You Have Frozen Shoulder

Your shoulder is a joint that is made up of many parts. They help you raise, rotate, and swing your arm. But if you have frozen shoulder, certain parts of the shoulder joint contract (shrink and pull in). This often causes pain and stiffness when you try to move your arm.

Treating Frozen Shoulder

To treat a frozen shoulder, stretches are tried first. If stretches alone don’t help, your doctor may suggest adding other treatments. Keep in mind that no treatment replaces shoulder stretches. After any of these treatments, you’ll need to start your exercises again as advised by your doctor.

Cortisone Injection

Cortisone is a steroid medication. It helps reduce inflammation (swelling and irritation). It is injected into the shoulder joint. It won’t cure frozen shoulder. But it may give some pain relief. This allows you to do your stretches more comfortably.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery may be suggested if stretching doesn’t relieve your pain and stiffness. In some cases, both procedures described below are done at the same time.


Your doctor slowly raises your arm until the capsule and ligaments are freed (released). The capsule is the sheet of tough fibers that surrounds the bones that make up the shoulder joint. The ligaments are the tough tissue that connects these bones.


Capsular Release

Your doctor frees the capsule and ligaments through an incision. This may be done if manipulation did not release the capsule. Surgery on the shoulder may be done through a few small incisions. This is called arthroscopic surgery. Or, it may be done through one large incision. This is known as open surgery.

You may start doing shoulder stretches soon after manipulation and capsular release—perhaps even the same day. Your doctor will discuss the plan for your treatment and stretches before the procedure.

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