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Signs You May Be Suffering From Frozen Shoulder

The term frozen shoulder sounds quite serious, and in fact, this painful condition severely limits your range of motion. Also known as adhesive capsulitis, it can affect movements you take for granted like reaching upward or behind your back. These are signs you may be suffering from frozen shoulder.

What Causes Frozen Shoulder

Doctors are not completely sure why someone develops a frozen shoulder, but it commonly occurs in those people who had their shoulder immobilized for a time, like after a mastectomy or a fractured arm. Diabetes is another common risk factor for frozen shoulder.

Other risk factors include those with hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s Disease, TB, and cardiovascular disease.

The Painful Gradual Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder occurs gradually over months. The less you move your shoulder, the more painful it becomes to move. So, refraining from movement can make the condition more painful.

mature man suffering from frozen shoulder at home

There are three recognized stages of a frozen shoulder:

  • The freezing stage is when the pain has just started to bother you. and you begin to have a limited range of motion.
  • During the frozen stage there may actually be less pain, but it becomes increasingly more difficult to move your shoulder. This stage can last from 4 to 12 months.
  • In the thawing stage the shoulder begins to gradually loosen up. This stage can last from 6 months to 2 years.

If you get treatment during the first stage, you can decrease the pain and the duration of the condition. Recognizing the earliest signs of frozen shoulder leads to a faster resolution.

How Can You Tell If You Have Frozen Shoulder

The first sign is your inability to move your arm in different directions. Beyond that, you may have a frozen shoulder IF:

  • You raise both arms up in front of you and overhead, and you can only lift your painful arm and shoulder to be parallel with the floor. In addition, while in this position your shoulder blade raises up awkwardly, and your shoulder moves upward toward your ear with pain.
  • You slowly lift your arms to the side and there is pain with the same shoulder movement toward your ear as above.
  • You stand with both arms at your side keeping elbows bent at a 90 degree angle, and try to rotate your arms outward. You will find one side will be very painful and will not be able to rotate out as far as the other arm and shoulder.

If these circumstances match your pain and range of motion, it is time to see Dr. Samuel Koo.

Treatments For Frozen Shoulder

Getting the proper treatment early can shorten the duration of this condition. Your physician may recommend exercises to improve your range of motion. This should only be performed with a physical therapist.

A steroid injection is another treatment for frozen shoulder. Joint distension is an injection of sterile water into the shoulder capsule to facilitate more stretch. Surgery is a rare treatment.

If you suspect you may be suffering from frozen shoulder, contact Dr. Samuel Koo as soon as possible for a diagnosis and treatment.

To schedule an appointment, please call (425) 823-4000 or request an appointment online today.

Call us at (425) 823-4000Call us at (425) 823-4000

COVID-19 Update

4/21/20 Update: Effective immediately, Dr. Koo is seeing patients through telehealth visits and in-person visits at our clinic. Call today to schedule your appointment!

Dr. Samuel Koo is closely following the most up-to-date announcements and information on the known cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Because this information is always changing, we will be monitoring all updated from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control.

To better serve you, Dr. Koo is now proud to offer virtual visits. With telehealth, you can meet with Dr. Koo from the comfort and safety of your own home. Please call our office today to learn more about this service or to schedule an appointment.

As of last Friday the governor of Washington state issued a declaration that all non-urgent or emergent surgical cases be postponed until the week of May 18th. For more information, please reach out to our office at (425) 823-4000.

Here are a few additional resources as well:

World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control