Frozen shoulder syndrome: what it is and how to treat it

Frozen shoulder, frozen shoulder, adhesive capsulitis: these are all terms that indicate a painful condition of the shoulder that manifests itself with pain, stiffness and difficulty in movement

A syndrome which, over time, can become chronic and lead to a progressive loss of mobility and elasticity of the joint.

It is a condition that occurs in approximately 2% of the population. It most commonly affects people between the ages of 40 and 60, and generally affects women more.

Frozen shoulder syndrome: the symptoms

When this syndrome occurs, the shoulder capsule thickens, becomes narrow and thick bands of tissue (medically referred to as ‘adhesions’) develop, causing:

localised pain over the shoulder that sometimes extends to the arm;

  • stiffness especially in the morning after waking up;
  • difficulty in performing normal shoulder movements;
  • progressive loss of elasticity even in the absence of known trauma.

Causes and risk factors of frozen shoulder syndrome

Frozen shoulder syndrome can be

  • idiopathic in nature, i.e. without any apparent cause;
  • secondary to trauma to the joint or surgery.

The cause has an inflammatory origin; in most cases it is caused by:

  • bursitis;
  • calcific tendinitis;
  • Milwaukee shoulder syndrome;
  • rheumatoid arthritis;
  • post mastectomy.

Risk factors are mainly diabetes, hypothyroidism and Parkinson’s disease.


Diagnosis for those suffering from adhesive capsulitis is often difficult.

In order to detect calcific deposits or to exclude other diseases, X-rays should be taken in standard projections.

Frozen shoulder syndrome: therapy and rehabilitation

The healing process is usually slow and can take some time: anti-inflammatory therapy, some rehabilitation and stretching will usually resolve the problem.

More rarely, when the symptoms do not ease and the pain persists, the possibility of arthroscopic arthrolysis can be discussed with the orthopaedic specialist.

Rehabilitation aims, through the execution of specific movements, at the recovery of the joint: the treatment includes massages and exercises that slowly allow the patient to recover the compromised elasticity.

Read Also:

Shoulder Tendonitis: Symptoms And Diagnosis

Dislocation Of The Shoulder: How To Reduce It? An Overview Of The Main Techniques



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