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What Is A Frozen Shoulder?

What Is A Frozen Shoulder?
What Is A Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen Shoulder Also Know As “50 Year Old Shoulder”

Also known as “50 year old shoulder” frozen shoulder is a very painful condition which typically but not exclusively occurs in middle age. A frozen shoulder usually occurs spontaneously however they are also relatively common following surgery or trauma to the upper extremity.

What Is A Frozen Shoulder?

Adhesive Capsulitis is the medical term for a frozen shoulder and it refers to the condition being an adhered (stuck) inflamed capsule of the joint.
The cause is uncertain and it is characterized by significant restriction shoulder motion in the absence of any known actual shoulder disorder. With a frozen shoulder the capsule which is like a sleeve that covers the joint becomes inflamed and adheres causing the restricted range of motion and pain. Initially, pain is quite severe and worst at night with shoulder motion being restricted particularly for the actions of putting the hand behind the back or head.

Who Gets Adhesive Capsulitis Of The Shoulder?

Frozen shoulders impact up to 5% of the population and affects women more than men and is more common in diabetics. As previously mentioned adhesive capsulitis strikes more commonly in the 5th–6th decades and in some circumstances an individual my get the condition on both sides of their body.
The cause of a frozen shoulder is unknown but has been shown to be more prevalent in:

What Are The Stages Of A Frozen Shoulder?

Adhesive capsulitis has three phases:

  • Freezing phase which typically lasts from 2-9months.
  • Frozen phase lasting around 4-12months.
  • Thawing phase lasting from 5-24months

Generally a frozen shoulder is considered to take between 1-2 years to resolve and is self limiting condition meaning it will generally “run its course” and settle if given enough time to do so. It is suggested that around 40% of people will be left with a permanent mild loss of motion following the onset of 50 year old shoulder and around 10% with have more significant long term restrictions of movement at the shoulder joint.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on What Is A Frozen Shoulder? should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.


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