NYC award-winning orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Tehrany explains frozen shoulder causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Frozen Shoulder or Adhesive Capsulitis

This condition is a loss of motion or stiffness in the shoulder, usually accompanied by pain in the joint. Frozen shoulder is most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60, but it can afflict anyone regardless of gender, arm preference, or occupation. The condition usually develops in 3 stages.

1. Freezing

During this stage your shoulder becomes stiff and pain gradually increases. This stage can last anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months.

2. Frozen

While the condition may seem less painful during this stage, the stiffness remains and severely limits activities.

3. Thawing

During this stage, mobility improves, with patients reporting an almost normal return to shoulder movement.

Dr. Tehrany has diagnosed this condition at various stages at his Staten Island, NYC office.

Frozen Shoulder Causes

The exact cause of this condition is not fully understood. It involves swelling or contraction of the glenohumeral ligaments, which form a capsule around the shoulder joint that results in stiffness, accompanied by pain.

The following factors may put you at an increased risk of developing adhesive capsulitis.

  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Parkinson’s’ disease
  • A long period of shoulder immobility

Frozen Shoulder Symptoms

The main symptom is limited motion or stiffness in the shoulder. Many patients also experience dull or aching pain on the outside of the shoulder or the upper arm. This condition commonly improves on its own, but it can take up to three years for the full motion to return. Oftentimes, full motion does not return.

Consulting with a board-certified orthopedic surgeon can help with diagnosing a frozen shoulder. During your physical exam, your specialist will compare your passive shoulder motion with active shoulder motion. In addition, X-rays or MRI scans may be requested to rule out any other possible causes of your stiffness and pain.

Treatment for the Frozen Shoulder

Adhesive capsulitis treatment can help with pain management and improve shoulder motion. Common treatment options include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as cortisone
  • Hydrodilatation (distension arthrography)
  • Stretching exercises
  • Physical therapy

In severe cases, where full motion does not return to the shoulder, surgery may be required, such as shoulder arthroscopy.

Top NYC orthopedic specialist, Dr. Armin Tehrany offers person-centered care that improves the quality of life for patients suffering from frozen shoulder. Schedule an appointment with him today if you are concerned about shoulder pain.