Causes: Despite its name, frozen shoulder is not brought on by cold weather. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the shoulder capsule thickens, adhesions develop and there is a reduction in synovial fluid. It is not fully understood what causes this to occur, but risk factors appear to include diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, cardiac disease, and limited use following a shoulder injury or surgery.
Frozen shoulder, although not rare, only affects about 2% of the general population. That comes as little consolation to those who do suffer from this debilitating condition. Interestingly, it affects more women than men and occurs most often in middle age (between the ages of 40-60).
Symptoms: Pain in the outer shoulder and upper arm regions that gradually intensifies over the weeks and months is most often associated with the initial “freezing” stage. When the shoulder reaches the “frozen” stage, the pain lessens considerably but the tradeoff is that mobility becomes severely limited – to the point that performing routine tasks become extremely difficult.
It is important to be diagnosed by a physician to rule out a broken bone or arthritis, which cause similar symptoms.