Frozen Shoulder

The term frozen shoulder is understood by physicians as a disease that leads to significant limitations in movement and ultimately to stiffening of the shoulder joint. Symptoms are due to inflammation in the shoulder capsule. Frozen shoulder is a self-limiting disease that will heal on its own over time.

Frozen Shoulder

What is a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as frozen shoulder, has been known since 1872. This independent clinical picture is an active and passive stiffening of the shoulder joint.

This is mostly fromstrengthenaccompanied by pain. It usually affects men and women between the ages of 40 and 70, who often already suffer from a metabolic disorder such as diabetes. Frozen shoulder syndrome also occurs more frequently in heart and lung patients. See bestitude for Meanings of Hyperdontia.

Frozen shoulder heals by itself after several years, but some sufferers have a movement deficit that cannot be reversed. So far, doctors have not been able to foresee how the disease will progress and how severe the remaining restrictions will be.


Frozen shoulder syndrome occurs more frequently after traumatic causes, such as a broken bone in the shoulder area. After such an injury, the shoulder is usually rested for a period of several weeks or even months, and the result is a frozen shoulder.

The same applies to diseases in the shoulder area, such as a rotator cuff tear, and to age-related shoulder wear. Infections that lead to pain and a relieving posture can also cause frozen shoulders. In all of these cases, experts speak of a secondary frozen shoulder because they can be traced back to a previous injury or illness.

However, in most of those affected, it is instead a primary frozen shoulder with no clear trigger. Sometimes this even occurs spontaneously.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A so-called frozen shoulder is associated with clear symptoms, so that a self-diagnosis is quite possible. Many affected people complain of a dull pain that persists even when they are at rest. The entire range of motion of the shoulder is very limited, so that every movement is very painful.

The pain from a frozen shoulder does not start suddenly, but occurs much more gradually. At the beginning, only a slight pulling in the shoulder area can be heard. After several days, the pain spreads throughout the shoulder, significantly restricting movement. In particularly bad cases, reddening occurs, which can be seen immediately in the shoulder area.

In many cases, the skin is very warm at this point, which can be counteracted with permanent cooling. A frozen shoulder is accompanied by severe pain that can even spread to the arm. If you do not seek treatment from a doctor at this point, you must expect the symptoms to worsen significantly.

On the other hand, if you decide to have a treatment, you can quickly and effectively relieve the pain in your shoulder. Only those who opt for medical and drug treatment will be able to enjoy a full recovery.

Diagnosis & History

It is very easy to diagnose Frozen Shoulders. In most cases, it is the person affected who seeks medical attention because of the restricted movement and the pain. If no direct cause can be identified, the treating doctor will have a comprehensive discussion with the patient and then arrange for imaging procedures such as an ultrasound examination or an X-ray.

These provide information about any damage that can cause the frozen shoulder. Magnetic resonance imaging can also be helpful. Frozen shoulders syndrome is one of the self-limiting diseases and will heal on its own after a certain period of time.

In many cases, movement restrictions of varying intensity remain after this, which under certain circumstances can significantly restrict the life of the person concerned. How long it takes to heal and what consequential damage remains cannot be determined with the current state of research.


If a frozen shoulder remains untreated over a longer period of time, various complications such as shoulder arthrosis or disease recurrence can occur. As a result of the chronic pain, there can be further poor posture and, as a result, new problems. In addition, sleep disorders, irritability and exhaustion often occur.

Basically, a frozen shoulder is accompanied by a decrease in the general well-being and quality of life of the person concerned. The limited mobility often leads to a withdrawal from social life – psychological problems such as depressive moods or inferiority complexes can be the result. In the case of surgical interventions such as keyhole surgery, major complications are very rare.

Sometimes infections, wound healing disorders and vascular or nerve injuries can occur. It is also possible for the movement to deteriorate again and for some residual stiffness to remain. The side effects of painkillers should also be considered. The typically prescribed preparations can cause symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems, headaches and skin irritations.

If other diseases are present or if other medicines are taken, interactions can occur. Finally, the improper use of natural remedies can also cause problems. The same applies to procedures such as acupuncture, biofeedback or magnet therapy.

When should you go to the doctor?

A frozen shoulder should always be treated by a doctor. In most cases, this disease does not heal itself, so that the affected person is always dependent on medical treatment. A doctor should be consulted if there is severe pain in the shoulders. This pain also occurs at rest and can also negatively affect the sufferer’s sleep.

The pain from the shoulders often spreads to the neighboring regions of the body and also leads to very severe symptoms there. A doctor should also be consulted if movement is restricted. A warm spot on the skin of the shoulders can also indicate frozen shoulders and should be checked if they do not go away on their own.

A doctor should be consulted, especially after an injury or an accident. An orthopedist or a general practitioner can be consulted. In emergencies or severe injuries, an ambulance should be called or the hospital should be contacted directly.

Treatment & Therapy

How successful the treatment of frozen shoulder is depends primarily on the underlying cause of the disease. The goal of therapy should always be to achieve pain-free full range of motion of the shoulder.

In mild cases, for example after an injury, physiotherapy exercises can help. These gradually expand the range of motion. Those affected can also do certain exercises at home and thus contribute to their healing. Concomitantly, it is possible to administer anti-inflammatory drugs. The administration of cortisone results in an improvement in the condition of many patients. The drug can be administered in tablet form or as an injection.

If the frozen shoulder persists, it may be necessary to move the joint under anesthesia. In the so-called anesthetic mobilization, the patient is anesthetized and the shoulder joint is moved in all directions for several minutes. At this point, it is also possible to use arthroscopic tools to penetrate the joint and thus remove the inflamed synovial membrane.

This method ensures a reduction in pain and can also significantly increase the mobility of the shoulder through subsequent anesthetic mobilization. Which treatment method is used depends largely on the severity of the symptoms.


Frozen shoulder can only be prevented to a limited extent, since in many cases it occurs spontaneously and without an obvious trigger. Secondary frozen shoulder, although it has a clear cause, is difficult to avoid.

However, it is possible to improve the condition and reduce the duration of the frozen shoulder syndrome by starting suitable physiotherapeutic measures as early as possible.

If you experience increased symptoms such as a stiff shoulder or pain when moving the shoulder joint, it is advisable to consult a doctor. He can make a diagnosis and, if necessary, initiate a suitable therapy, which can possibly prevent the disease from progressing.


Follow-up treatment of frozen shoulder is required if it requires surgery, which is usually done by arthroscopy. The patient is treated under inpatient conditions for about five days and receives a pain catheter, which enables almost painless physiotherapy exercises.

The physiotherapeutic follow-up treatment of the Frozen Shoulder begins immediately after the operation. Early therapy is considered urgent. Needs-based pain therapy is carried out beforehand. In addition, the patient performs both active and passive range of motion exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist. The affected shoulder can be moved three times a day for 30 minutes using a motorized movement splint.

In most cases, inpatient therapy takes five to eight days. An orthopedist then takes care of the aftercare on an outpatient basis. Overall, the physiotherapeutic treatment, which follows a fixed schedule, lasts about three months. The patient’s incapacity to work depends on his workload. As a rule, it is between three and six weeks with a normal healing process.

Follow-up treatment of frozen shoulder is considered to be labor intensive. The patient must also complete a special home program in their own four walls. Also, it requires a lot of patience. It can take up to six months before the treated shoulder can move completely and freely again.

You can do that yourself

Above all, patients who suffer from a “frozen shoulder” need patience. Both the pain and stiffness in the shoulder usually resolve on their own. But that can take months. During this time, patients can also do their part to improve their condition.

After a sports injury or an accident, physiotherapy should be started in good time to prevent a stiff shoulder from occurring in the first place. Even with a spontaneous frozen shoulder, where the causes are often unknown, physiotherapy exercises help to significantly accelerate recovery. In the beginning it is often necessary to take painkillers immediately before the physiotherapy session so that the measure remains bearable for the patient. In the case of mild to moderate pain, over-the-counter medication from the pharmacy is usually sufficient. A patient can also take this, after consultation with the doctor treating him, if the pain, which is often particularly severe when he is at rest, prevents him from sleeping.

Compresses also help, although some patients respond better to heat and others to cold. Here the affected person has to find out for himself which temperature situation has a favorable effect on him. During cold treatments, the compresses or ice pack should only be applied for a short time, around 30 seconds to a minute. This often leads to an almost complete disappearance of the pain for several hours.