Shoulder pain comes in many forms, among them is Adhesive Capsulitis, commonly known as frozen shoulder, a
problem that causes the shoulder joint capsule to stiffen and causes a loss of movement throughout the shoulder
joint. This condition is often confused with shoulder tendonitis or a rotator cuff injury, but it's different
because it affects the joint capsule rather than the tendons and muscles of the joint. To understand this concept
better, it might help to look at the anatomy of the shoulder joint.
Shoulder Joint Anatomy
This particular joint is intricate and complex area of the body. While the shoulder is one of the most
amazingly versatile parts of the body, it is also among the most fragile. With the number of tendons, bones and
muscles involved with each movement, it's easy for something to go wrong. The shoulder joint also has a large
range of motion, but that means that it lacks the stability that other joints have. This makes it more
susceptible to injury resulting in shoulder pain.
Three Bones in the Shoulder
Four Muscles in the Shoulder
- Scapula (shoulder blade)
- Humerus (upper arm bone)
- Clavicle (collarbone)
- Teres Minor
When we talk about frozen shoulder, we are talking about the point at which the humerus fits into the
shoulder socket. The surrounding ligaments and capsule becomes inflamed and causes limited motion in the area
and a great deal of shoulder pain.
Causes of Frozen Shoulder
Although the cause of frozen shoulder is a mystery, many cases of this condition occur following a shoulder
injury, shoulder surgery or arthritis. Poor posture is also a cause of frozen shoulder, causing the ligaments
that surround the shoulder joint to shorten and cause stiffness in the joint. Others believe that conditions
like diabetes and hyperthyroidism can cause or at least contribute to stiffness in the shoulder.
Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder
You might not know what causes frozen shoulder, but you definitely know when you have it because of the extreme
stiffness and shoulder pain you'll feel in the joint. The pain is usually more like a constant aching and the
stiffness prevents the joint from performing its full range of motion. In a typical case, you won't be able to
lift your arm above your head or rotate your shoulder at all. There are generally three stages involved with
This is known as the "freezing phase." The shoulder begins to have mild pain and stiffness. It can last for a
few weeks or several months.
Known as the "frozen phase," this stage sees the pain decline while the stiffness remains. This stage can last
up to a year.
This "thawing phase" allows the shoulder joint to regain its full range of motion, but it could take up to a
few months to fully recover.
Most cases of frozen shoulder clear up between four to six months after onset, but some extreme cases have
been known to last a few years. Proper precautions and exercises can reduce your risk of getting this condition
and any other type of shoulder pain.
If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to forward it to others, make it available from your site or
post it on blogs and forums for others to read. All we ask is that this paragraph and URL are included. For
more information and articles on stretching, flexibility and sports injury management, visit The Stretching Institute.