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Frozen Shoulder – Signs, Recovery, and Prevention

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a debilitating condition that manifests as stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint, leading to a significant reduction in its range of motion. This condition typically begins subtly and progresses gradually, often resolving on its own within a span of one to two years. The road to recovery involves a comprehensive approach, including physical therapy, medication, and, in severe cases, surgical intervention. 

Causes and Symptoms 

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a painful condition limiting shoulder joint mobility. Frozen shoulder is characterized by a thickening of the capsule around the shoulder joint which leads to a loss of mobility. Common in individuals aged 40-60, it’s more prevalent in women and those with diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disorders, or extended periods of shoulder immobility. It progresses through three stages, beginning with pain and mobility reduction (“freezing”), then sustained stiffness (“frozen”), and finally a restoration of mobility with decreased pain (“thawing”). Frozen shoulder can significantly impact daily activities, so it is vital to seek medical evaluation to assist with reducing pain and restoring proper function of the shoulder. 


Frozen shoulder rehabilitation is often a slow, gradual process, lasting several months or even years. Initially, pain and inflammation can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Physical therapy is crucial with emphasis placed on restoring mobility of the shoulder. Physical therapy can assist with reducing shoulder pain over time and restoring the function of the shoulder. Recovery from a frozen shoulder is a timely process and can take up to 1-2 years for a full recovery. Patience and persistence are key, as strict adherence to the prescribed regimen and a positive mindset substantially affect recovery outcomes. With consistent effort and medical guidance, most patients regain full function and live pain-free.

Although frozen shoulder can be a painful and debilitating condition, it is often possible to make a full recovery with the right care and management. If you are experiencing any issues related to frozen shoulder, it is important to seek medical advice from your doctor or physical therapist as early as possible.

Call today and schedule a consultation with one of our certified physical therapists to help get you back on the path of regaining function and pain-free life with your shoulders.

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