Lisa Conway – Hometown News

Q: What can I do for a frozen shoulder?

A: Frozen shoulder is a common term for adhesive capsulitis, which causes a painful restriction of motion in the shoulder joint. Pain, swelling and stiffness can make everyday activities difficult– and it will gradually worsen over time without intervention. Frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint contracts with the formation of scar tissue, preventing the shoulder from moving freely.

Frozen shoulder most commonly occurs in women aged 40-60. Although the exact cause is unknown, common factors include nerve compression, shoulder strain injuries (often undetected) and some type of hormonal imbalance. The hormonal imbalance could be related to menopause, diabetes, thyroid issues, adrenal stress or even a testosterone imbalance.

Symptoms of frozen shoulder generally include shoulder pain, often with a dull ache and limited range of motion.  More severe symptoms may include headaches, neck pain or stiffness, upper shoulder pain, elbow or forearm pain and even numbness/tingling in the hands. People with frozen shoulder experience difficulties with activities of daily living, such as brushing their teeth, getting dressed, shampooing their hair and even lifting items out of the refrigerator.

Frozen Shoulder Phases:

Phase 1- The “freezing stage” typically lasts 2-9 months. A dull, aching pain in the shoulder develops with increasing pain and stiffness.

Phase 2- The “frozen stage” typically lasts 4-12 months. Upper arm and shoulder pain may begin to diminish, but stiffness and decreased range of motion occur. Sufferers may complain of sharp pain with sudden movement.

Phase 3- The “thawing stage” can take 2-3 years. Range of motion will eventually return to normal. Importantly, however, without some type of intervention, most/many people will experience unresolved, permanent damage.

Treatments for frozen shoulder typically include some combination of physical therapy, pain and anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections or surgery. For senior resources, contact The Experts in Aging at One Senior Place.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.comLisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.