Frozen Shoulder



Frozen shoulder is caused by inflammation and scarring of the soft tissues around the shoulder joint. It is not known why this happens in some people. In other people, it may happen after trauma or surgery.

Frozen Shoulder
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Risk Factors

It is more common in people who are 40 to 60 years old. It is also more common in women. Things that may raise your risk are:

  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Problems with the immune system, such as lupus
  • Dupuytren disease
  • Prior surgery



This problem may get worse over time before it gets better on its own. This is called thawing.

Symptoms may be:

  • Shoulder pain, especially when moving
  • Problems moving the shoulder
  • Stiffness


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done, paying close attention to your shoulder.



Treatment is aimed at easing pain and helping the shoulder move again. Options are:

Without Surgery

Initial care may be:

  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • Medicine injected into the shoulder to help it heal and ease pain and swelling
  • Exercises to make the shoulder stronger and help it to move better

With Surgery

People who do not benefit from initial care may need surgery. During surgery, the shoulder may be forced to moved to increase motion. A small incision may also be made to release the tight tissues.


Rehabilitation may include:

  • Physical therapy—to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion
  • Occupational therapy—to help with daily tasks and self care


This problem can happen when a person is not active and moving the shoulder. Healthy muscles may help prevent injury. This may be done through exercise.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.