Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a condition in which the shoulder tightens and becomes difficult to move. It often has no known cause and is more likely to occur in people with diabetes, people with significant scar tissue from shoulder surgery, and people who have kept their arm immobilized for a long period of time. Treatment can help patients with frozen shoulder regain their shoulder function.

  • Symptoms

  • Treatment


Symptoms of a frozen shoulder include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Decreased range of motion, particularly when extending the arm out to the side and rotating it

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I have a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder often begins with a trivial shoulder injury, which leads to progressively worsening pain and stiffness. The most recognizable symptoms are noticeably decreased range of motion, pain, stiffness, and weakness, especially in those at higher risk (individuals with diabetes, an immobilized shoulder, or recent shoulder surgery). An MRI may also be performed to reveal any thickening of a scar capsule, which may cause the shoulder joint to tighten.

Will I need surgery for my frozen shoulder?

Many patients do not need to undergo surgery for a frozen shoulder. Surgery is usually reserved for patients who fail to progress with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and/or injections. Factors including the patient’s age, level of function, rate of progression, and lifestyle demands will all play a role in determining whether surgery should be considered.

What are the risks of not getting treatment for a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder can sometimes resolve on its own, although this can take many months. Many patients who do not get treatment for their frozen shoulder will have persistent stiffness, weakness, and decreased range of motion. Conservative treatments like physical therapy and steroid injections can significantly speed up the healing process and help patients regain their shoulder function sooner.