What is a frozen shoulder?
Frozen shoulder occurs when the connective tissues surrounding the shoulder joint (shoulder capsule) thicken and shorten due to chronic inflammation. This condition is also known as adhesive capsulitis; frozen shoulder causes pain and motion loss in the affected shoulder. In more severe cases, there is a complete loss of shoulder function; simple activities of daily living (hygiene, sleep, dressing, eating) can be difficult and painful.
Frozen shoulder typically has an insidious onset. Although the development of adhesive capsulitis is not completely understood, some underlying health conditions are associated with an increased risk of developing a frozen shoulder. They are as follows:
- A lack of shoulder movement for an extended period, often from a prior injury or surgery, can cause a frozen shoulder.
- Age and sex. A frozen shoulder is more commonly seen in women over the age of 40.
- A frozen shoulder is seen more often in patients with diabetes; these patients typically experience a more severe form of the disease and longer-lasting symptoms.
- Prior surgery to the shoulder girdle or chest area (breast reconstruction).
- Radiation therapy