What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis, is a painful and restricting condition of the shoulder.  Sufferers often experience dull or diffuse aching pain, loss of active (self controlled movement) and passive (aided movement) range of motion.  External rotation of the shoulder is especially affected which limits basic everyday activities like putting on a jacket or reaching for a seat belt.

Age and gender seem to be a factor with frozen shoulder as it is seen mainly in individuals between the ages of 40 to 60, and estimates suggest that 70% of sufferers are female.  Adult diabetics are at a higher risk than non-diabetics.

The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint made up of three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle).  The head of the humerus makes the “ball” and fits into a shallow “socket” in the scapula called the glenoid cavity.  Connective tissue, called the shoulder capsule, surrounds and encases all the bones, tendons, and ligaments of shoulder joint.

In frozen shoulder, the shoulder capsule thickens and becomes tight. Stiff bands of tissue called adhesions develop and limit shoulder mobility.

The exact causes of frozen shoulder can be elusive; frequently it develops without cause either acute or gradually. It is not uncommon to see the development of frozen shoulder after trauma to the shoulder where a rotator cuff tendon or the shoulder capsule has been affected.  Another culprit in the development of frozen shoulder is chronic shoulder immobility and reduced shoulder mobility, which can be byproducts of injury, surgery and disease.

Frozen shoulder develops gradually in three stages:


Freezing stage (2 – 9 months)

During the freezing stage pain levels increase and shoulder mobility and range of motion decreases. 


Frozen stage (4 – 6 months)

Pain levels may begin to decrease in this stage, but mobility and range motion often worsen. Daily activities can become difficult to perform.


Thawing stage (6 – 24 months)

The shoulder begins to “thaw”; mobility and range of motion improve. The shoulder may make a complete or partial recovery in about 6 – 24 months.


If left untreated frozen shoulder may make partially or completely disappear within 6 months to 2 years time, however Acupuncture & Chinese medicine have proven to be effective forms of treatment to speed the recovery of frozen shoulder.


If you have any questions or you would like to book appointment with Ryan Samuels please contact his offices at (250) 860 – 2212 or visit his website at: www.kelownaacupucntureclinic.com   

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Ryan Samuels is a Registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medical Herbalist (R.Ac, R.TCMP) at KLO Chiropractic Centre in Kelowna. He holds a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine diploma, and has a special interest in the treatment of digestive issues, neuropathy, acute & chronic pain, sports injuries, and migraines.  All treatments with Ryan are individualized and designed around your current physical and mental well being. 

Website link:  http://www.kelownaacupunctureclinic.com/

Contact Email:  [email protected] 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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