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Frozen shoulder: The unexpected problem that occurs when we don't expect it

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Frozen shoulder or as it's known medically Adhesive Capsulitis, involves stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. Symptoms begin slowly and then get worse. Over time, the symptoms get better but not usually until 1-3 years later, whicch is a very long time to wait for it to heal on it's own.

The shoulder joint is enclosed in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement.

It's unclear why this happens to some people but it's more likely to happen after keeping a shoulder still for a long period, such as after surgery or an arm fracture.

It also develops more in people over 40 and in women.


Frozen shoulder typically develops slowly in three stages.

  • Freezing stage. Any movement of the shoulder causes pain, and the shoulder's ability to move becomes limited. This stage lasts from 2 to 9 months.

  • Frozen stage. Pain might lessen during this stage. However, the shoulder becomes stiffer. Using it becomes more difficult. This stage lasts from 4 to 12 months.

  • Thawing stage. The shoulder's ability to move begins to improve. This stage lasts from 5 to 24 months.

Typical medical treatments are corticosteroids and numbing medications injected into the joint. Rarely is arthroscopic surgery needed to loosen the joint capsule so that it can move more freely

Chiropractic treatment options: Typically, I will treatment frozen shoulder by adjusting the shoulder manually depending on the stage of the condition it is in or with an activator and have the patient do ROM exercises to break up the frozen shoulder and restore proper motion in it. Ice/heat are also advised. There are also AK chiropractic treatment options that work great at getting the ROM back and reducing the amount of pain the patient feels. The goal is to restore full or as near as to 100% ROM as possible in the shoulder joint. Please call or message me with any further questions on this condition



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