What is Frozen Shoulder?

Adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder occurs when the shoulder joint becomes stiff losing pain-free range of motion.  The causes of this condition have been studied are not typically linked to a traumatic event or injury.  This condition can occur in anyone but, typically occurs in female and diabetic patients more frequently than men.  Additional medical problems such as thyroidism, cardiac surgery, chemotherapy of the chest and immobilization of the arm have also been linked to this condition.  About 2% of the population will suffer with adhesive capsulitis of which 10-20% are diabetics.


Anatomically, your shoulder complex is a ball and socket joint.  It is comprised of 4 main muscles, several bones, and several soft tissue structures.  These structures are enclosed by connective tissue called the joint capsule.  In adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder, this capsule tightens causing symptoms.


Symptoms begin gradually and worsen as the shoulder is moved less and less due to pain.  By utilizing the shoulder less, adhesions form within the joint.  These adhesions tighten the shoulder causing decreased range of motion and pain with any movement.  This is the first stage of the condition called the freezing stage.  The second stage, frozen stage, takes place when