Distinguishing Differences Between a Stiff Shoulder and Frozen Shoulder

Posted Thursday, December 15, 2016

Did You Know? Women are more likely to suffer from Frozen Shoulder

Distinguishing Differences Between a Stiff Shoulder and Frozen Shoulder

Rise in active people suddenly experiencing frozen shoulder. 

Frozen shoulder is not a commonly known condition however; those who suffer from frozen shoulder know it’s not easily shrugged off. This resource is intended to help educate patients on what frozen shoulder is, causes, symptoms and how to decrease their risk.

01 | What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is stiffness, pain, and limited range of movement in the shoulder. The tissues around the joint stiffen, scar tissue forms, and shoulder movements become difficult and painful. The condition usually comes on slowly and goes away slowly over the course of a year or more.

02 | Causes  

Causes of Frozen Shoulder can occur due to the following:

  • Perimenopause: Frozen shoulder tends to occur between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. About 70 percent of those affected are women due to hormonal shifts that occur in the early or pre-stages of menopause.
  • Shoulder surgery or immobility: When surgery or injury requires joint immobilization, such as through an arm cast or healing process, the shoulder joint becomes susceptible to freezing.
  • Diabetes and thyroid imbalances: Endocrine issues can affect joints and muscles. Diabetes results in sugar adhering to the collagen in cells and affects their functioning. Also, diabetes can damage blood vessels. A poor blood supply may result in scarring of the body’s elastic tissues, which can trigger a frozen shoulder.

03 | Symptoms

Symptoms of shoulder typically develop slowly and for some the pain worsen at night.  Symptoms can be categorized in following three stages:

  • Freezing stage: Any shoulder movement causes pain and range of motion begins to become limited.
  • Frozen stage: Pain may begin to diminish during this stage. However, the shoulder may become stiffer and using it becomes more difficult.
  • Thawing stage: The range of motion in the shoulder begins to improve.

04 | Decrease Your Risk

Here are some simple steps that you can incorporate into your daily life to dramatically reduce your chances of developing frozen shoulder as you age:

  • Stretch your shoulders  & spine
  • Strengthen the tendons around your shoulders
  • Include vitamin D & friendly bacteria in your diet
  • Eat minimally processed food

There are several methods that can be used to diagnose and treat Frozen Shoulder.  Your medical provider can help you to establish a roadmap for care.  For additional Frozen Shoulder resources visit: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/frozen-shoulder/basics/treatment/con-20022510

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