Every year in the United States, nearly eight million people seek medical care for shoulder pain — and that doesn’t take into account the many men and women who try to treat painful symptoms on their own. Frozen shoulder is a common cause of shoulder pain, especially among people between the ages of 40-65.
With locations in Golden, Aurora, Thornton, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, Restore Osteo of Colorado offers custom treatment plans for causes of shoulder pain, helping everyone get the care they need to relieve symptoms and improve shoulder function.
Here’s what you should know about this common shoulder problem — and whether you might be at risk for it.
Frozen shoulder: The basics
As its name implies, frozen shoulder is a condition that causes stiffness and immobility in your shoulder. It typically only affects one shoulder, although both can be impacted.
Frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule of connective tissue that surrounds the joint becomes inflamed and stiff. That capsule includes the ligaments that help connect the parts of the joint and promote normal movement.
Frozen shoulder usually occurs in four stages:
- Stage 1: Shoulder pain begins to cause some stiffness in the joint
- Stage 2: Pain continues and movement becomes more impaired
- Stage 3 (the “frozen” stage): Your shoulder is very stiff
- Stage 4 (the “thawing” stage): The ability to move your shoulder slowly returns
The entire sequence can take more than a year, sometimes up to two years, before the condition resolves.
Risk factors for frozen shoulder
Frozen shoulder may be a relatively common cause of shoulder pain, but some people are more likely to develop the condition. Aside from older age, some of the more common risk factors include:
- Shoulder injury
- Period of shoulder immobility (like when wearing a sling)
- Systemic diseases, like thyroid disease, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes
- Inflammatory diseases and autoimmune disorders
Frozen shoulder also tends to be more common among women than men.
Treating frozen shoulder
Most people respond well to conservative treatments, including pain medication, steroids to reduce inflammation, and physical therapy to restore normal movement in the joint. Even with conservative treatment, it can take months for your shoulder to completely heal.
In a few cases, when conservative treatment doesn’t work, our team might recommend surgery to “release” the joint and restore normal function. There are a couple of approaches to shoulder surgery, depending on your symptoms and other factors. After surgery, you’ll undergo physical therapy to speed healing and restore your shoulder’s movement and function.
Find out what’s causing your shoulder pain
While several conditions can cause shoulder pain, one thing remains the same: Shoulder pain is never normal. It’s always a sign that something’s wrong, and seeing one of our doctors is the first step toward feeling better and preventing more serious issues later on. If you’re having shoulder pain, call the office or book an appointment online so we can help you feel better fast.