What is a frozen shoulder? (adhesive capsulitis)
Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that causes severe, painful restriction of motion in the shoulder joint. Frozen shoulder causes the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint to contract and form scar tissue which prevents the shoulder bone from being able to move in the socket. The shoulder literally seems to be “frozen” which is why it is called frozen shoulder.
What has previously been documented regarding predisposing factors to developing frozen shoulder?
Age & Gender
Frozen shoulder most commonly affects patients between the ages of 40 to 60 years old. It is twice more common in women than in men.
Endocrine (Hormonal) Disorders
Patients with diabetes are at particular risk for developing frozen shoulder. People with other endocrine abnormalities, such as thyroid problems, may also be predisposed to developing frozen shoulder.
Shoulder Trauma or Surgery
Patients who sustain a shoulder injury, or undergo shoulder surgery or vaccinations in the shoulder muscle can develop frozen shoulder. When injury or surgery is followed by prolonged joint immobilization such as putting the shoulder in a sling, the risk of developing frozen shoulder is highest.
Other Systemic Conditions
Several systemic conditions such as heart disease and Parkinson’s disease have also been associated with an increased risk for developing frozen shoulder.
It is also hypothesized that some patients also develop frozen shoulder due to severe stress causing a psychosomatic reactionâ€”especially if they feel emotionally restricted and pressured or “frozen” in the decision-making process.
What happens to the shoulder joint when it freezes and becomes an adhesive capsulitis frozen shoulder?
When a patient develops frozen shoulder, the capsule surrounding the joint contracts. The patient’s body forms bands of scar tissue called adhesions. In addition, the soft sacs which cushion the joint called bursas may also stick together causing loss of ability to move the shoulder. The contraction of the capsule and the formation of the adhesions cause the frozen shoulder to become stiff and cause movement to become extremely painful.