What is it?

Frozen shoulder is a condition which causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder. Its symptoms are typically severe and intrusive. It is more common in women than men and typically affects individuals between the ages of 40 and 60. It is associated with diabetes, thyroid problems and Dupuytren’s contracture.

What causes it?

Primary frozen shoulder occurs when there is no clear reason for the symptoms. Sometimes patients are informed that they have a ‘frozen shoulder’ following an injury or surgery, although this should be more accurately referred to as ‘post-traumatic stiffness’.

What happens if you do nothing?

Frozen shoulders typically improve as time progresses passing through a painful stage (freezing), painful and stiff stage (frozen) and then resolving phase (thawing). Symptoms are generally persistent for 2 to 3 years.

What treatments are there?

The natural history of a frozen shoulder can be altered by steroid injections into the ball and socket part of the shoulder, manipulation under anaesthetic (careful manipulation of the shoulder whilst you are asleep) or arthroscopic release (which is keyhole surgery and division of the inflamed capsule under direct vision).