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Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. As the condition worsens, your shoulder’s range of motion becomes markedly reduced. Frozen shoulder usually affects one shoulder at a time, although some people may eventually develop frozen shoulder in the opposite shoulder.

With treatments recommended by their doctors and through self-care efforts, most people with frozen shoulder eventually regain nearly full shoulder range of motion and strength as signs and symptoms improve.


Frozen shoulder typically develops slowly, and in three stages. Each of these stages can last a number of months:

  • Painful stage. During this stage, pain occurs with any movement of your shoulder and your shoulder’s range of motion starts to become limited.
  • Frozen stage. Pain may begin to diminish during this stage. However, your shoulder becomes stiffer and your range of motion decreases notably. Avoid extreme movements that cause pain during this stage. But, you can and should continue normal use of your shoulder.
  • Thawing stage. During the thawing stage, the range of motion in your shoulder begins to improve.

For some people, the pain worsens at night, sometimes disrupting normal sleep patterns.


Doctors don’t know the precise cause of frozen shoulder. It can occur after an injury to your shoulder or prolonged immobilization of your shoulder, such as after surgery or an arm fracture. People who have diabetes have a greater risk of frozen shoulder. For this reason, frozen shoulder may have an autoimmune component, meaning your immune system may begin to attack the healthy parts of your body in this case, the capsule and connective tissue of your shoulder. People with other health conditions, including heart disease, lung disease and hyperthyroidism, also may have an increased risk of developing frozen shoulder.

Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. The round end of your upper arm bone (humerus) fits into a shallow groove on your shoulder blade (scapula), much like a golf ball rests on a tee. Tough connective tissue, called the shoulder capsule, surrounds the joint.

When frozen shoulder occurs, the shoulder capsule becomes inflamed and stiff. The inflammation may cause bands of tissue (adhesion) to develop between your joint’s surfaces. Synovial fluid, which helps to keep your joint lubricated and moving smoothly, may decrease. As a result, pain and subsequent loss of movement may occur. In some cases, mobility may decrease so much that performing everyday activities such as combing your hair, brushing your teeth or reaching for your wallet in your back pocket is difficult or even impossible.

When to see a Chiropractor

If you experience significant pain combined with stiffness and restricted range of motion in your shoulder, call us to determine if you have frozen shoulder.

What we can do for you

Contact us today. We are more than willing to help you through this difficult condition.