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Unlocking Frozen Shoulder: Understanding Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, & Treatments

Welcome to Holistiq Spine and Orthopaedics, where we embark on a journey to demystify the complexities of frozen shoulder. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and innovative treatments, providing you with valuable insights to empower your pursuit of shoulder health and overall well-being. Join us as we unlock the secrets of frozen shoulder, combining traditional expertise with holistic approaches for a personalized and comprehensive understanding.

Frozen Shoulder Unveiled: Decoding the Intricacies of a Restricted Range of Motion

Also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint. It typically progresses gradually and can significantly impact daily activities. The condition occurs when the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint, called the shoulder capsule, thickens and tightens, restricting movement.

Explore the Symptoms

The symptoms typically progress through stages and can vary in intensity. Here are common symptoms associated with this condition:

  • Pain: Gradual onset of pain in the shoulder that may be mild initially but intensifies over time. The pain is often deep within the shoulder and may be more pronounced during specific movements.
  • Stiffness: Increasing stiffness in the shoulder joint, making it difficult to move the arm freely. Stiffness is a key characteristic, and individuals may notice a gradual loss of range of motion.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Progressive reduction in the ability to move the shoulder in various directions. Activities such as reaching overhead, reaching behind the back, or rotating the arm may become increasingly challenging.
  • Painful Movements: Pain is often exacerbated during specific movements or activities. Trying to lift the arm or rotate it can be particularly painful.
  • Difficulty with Daily Tasks: As the condition advances, individuals may experience difficulty with daily tasks such as dressing, combing hair, or reaching for objects on high shelves.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Discomfort in the shoulder can lead to sleep disturbances, especially when lying on the affected side.
  • Gradual Progression: Typically it develops slowly over weeks or months. The symptoms may worsen over time before reaching a peak.
  • Impact on Quality of Life: The combination of pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion can significantly impact overall quality of life, affecting both physical activities and emotional well-being.

It’s important to note that symptoms may vary from person to person, and the severity of symptoms can be influenced by factors such as age, underlying health conditions, and individual response to treatment. If you suspect you have this condition or are experiencing persistent shoulder pain and stiffness, it’s advisable to seek medical evaluation for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management. Early intervention can help prevent further progression and improve outcomes.

Discover Causes

The exact causes of this condition (adhesive capsulitis) are not always clear, and the condition can develop without a specific trigger. However, certain factors and conditions may contribute to the development of frozen shoulder. These include:

  • Immobility or Lack of Use: Prolonged immobility or limited use of the shoulder due to injury, surgery, or other medical conditions can contribute to the development of this.
  • Inflammatory Conditions: Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis can increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder.
  • Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. The exact connection is not fully understood, but it is believed that diabetes may affect the shoulder joint tissues.
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries: Injuries to the rotator cuff, which is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint, can lead to inflammation and contribute to frozen shoulder.
  • Other Systemic Conditions: Certain systemic conditions, including heart disease, thyroid disorders, and Parkinson’s disease, have been associated with an increased risk of frozen shoulder.
  • Age and Gender: Frozen shoulder is more common in individuals between the ages of 40 and 60, and it is also more prevalent in women than in men.
  • Previous Shoulder Trauma or Surgery: A history of shoulder trauma, surgery, or prolonged immobilization can be a predisposing factor.
  • Genetic Predisposition: There may be a genetic predisposition to developing frozen shoulder, as some individuals may be more susceptible based on their family history.


Diagnosing frozen shoulder typically involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, and imaging studies. Here are the key components of the diagnostic process:

  • Medical History: The healthcare provider will gather information about your symptoms, including when they started, the nature of the pain, and any factors that worsen or alleviate the symptoms. They will also inquire about your overall health, medical history, and any previous injuries or surgeries related to the shoulder.
  • Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination is conducted to assess the range of motion, strength, and stability of the affected shoulder. The healthcare provider may perform specific maneuvers to elicit pain or stiffness and observe how well you can move your arm in different directions.
  • Imaging Studies: X-rays: X-rays are often the first imaging study performed to rule out other potential causes of shoulder pain, such as arthritis or fractures. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI may be ordered to provide more detailed images of the soft tissues, allowing the healthcare provider to assess the condition of the shoulder joint and surrounding structures.
  • Joint Distension (Arthrography): In some cases, a joint distension procedure may be performed. This involves injecting a contrast dye into the shoulder joint before imaging studies, helping to visualize the joint capsule and confirm the diagnosis.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests may be conducted to rule out underlying conditions such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders that could contribute to the development of frozen shoulder.


The treatment of frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) aims to relieve pain, reduce stiffness, and improve the range of motion in the shoulder. Treatment approaches may vary based on the severity of symptoms and individual factors. Common treatments for frozen shoulder include:

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is a key component of treatment. Specific exercises and stretches are designed to improve flexibility, strengthen muscles, and enhance the range of motion in the shoulder. Physical therapists may also use techniques such as heat or ice therapy.
  • Pain Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, stronger pain medications or corticosteroid injections may be recommended.
  • Heat and Ice Therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected shoulder can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Heat may be used before stretching exercises, while ice may be applied after activity to manage pain.
  • Joint Distension (Hydrodilatation): In some cases, a joint distension procedure may be performed. This involves injecting sterile water into the joint capsule to stretch it and improve range of motion. This procedure is often done under imaging guidance.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections into the shoulder joint may be used to reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief from pain.
  • Home Exercises: Patients are often prescribed specific exercises to perform at home to maintain and improve shoulder mobility. Consistent adherence to these exercises is crucial for optimal outcomes.
  • Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA): In certain cases where conservative measures are not effective, a healthcare provider may perform a manipulation of the shoulder under anesthesia. This involves manipulating the arm to break up adhesions and improve range of motion.
  • Surgery (Release): In severe cases where conservative treatments are not successful, surgical intervention may be considered. During surgery, the joint capsule is released to allow for improved movement. Rehabilitation following surgery is typically necessary.

Your Journey to Optimal Well-being Starts Here

If you are experiencing symptoms of frozen shoulder or have risk factors that may predispose you to the condition, it’s advisable to seek medical attention for a thorough evaluation and appropriate management. Early intervention can help manage symptoms and prevent further progression of the condition.

At Holistiq Spine and Orthopedics, we prioritize a holistic approach to address this, considering individual needs and providing comprehensive care across all stages of life.

  • Expert Guidance: Benefit from the expertise of our seasoned professionals specializing in spine and orthopedic care.
  • Comprehensive Assessment: We conduct thorough assessments to unveil the nuances of your condition, ensuring tailored solutions.
  • Holistic Therapies: Embrace a range of holistic therapies that integrate traditional expertise with innovative approaches for well-rounded care.

Holistiq provides its services in three locations in the DFW metroplex: ArlingtonPlano, and Irving, TX.

Schedule your consultation today and let the rejuvenation begin.

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