Frozen Shoulder: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

woman suffering from frozen shoulder pain

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a common condition characterized by stiffness and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint. At Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopaedics, we frequently encounter patients experiencing this condition, which can lead to a sensation of the shoulder being "frozen" and difficulty raising the arm above the head. In this article, we will explore the underlying causes, signs, treatment options, prevention strategies, and the specialized expertise available at Elite for managing frozen shoulder.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder

Inflammation plays a key role in frozen shoulder. The joint capsule, responsible for facilitating shoulder movement, can become inflamed, leading to stiffness, pain, swelling, and restricted range of motion. Injuries left untreated and immobilized can also contribute to frozen shoulder. While not a direct cause, individuals with diabetes have a higher risk due to increased blood glucose attaching to the shoulder's collagen lining.


Frozen shoulder typically develops gradually, with patients experiencing progressive stiffness and loss of range of motion. Pain, inflammation, and swelling in the shoulder are common. The muscles at the top of the arm are often the most affected.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment and Prevention

It is important to consult an orthopedic shoulder doctor for proper assessment and guidance in treating frozen shoulder. They can perform necessary releases, provide appropriate stretches and exercises, or recommend orthopedic physical therapy. Simple cross-body stretches can be beneficial in preventing or managing frozen shoulder. Maintaining range of motion and preventing stiffness through daily exercises is crucial. Physical therapists can provide tailored exercises and stretches for individual needs.

Different Treatment Options: Treatment options for frozen shoulder include medication for pain management, at-home stretches or physical therapy to improve mobility, cortisol injections, and following the RICE method (rest, ice, compress, elevate). The specific treatment approach will depend on the severity and individual circumstances.

Consulting an Orthopedic Specialist: If your shoulder becomes immobilized or increasingly stiff, it is advisable to seek the expertise of an orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulder conditions. They can perform diagnostic tests like X-rays and MRIs to confirm the presence of frozen shoulder and rule out other conditions or injuries.

Orthopedic Shoulder Specialists in Nashville, TN

At Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopaedics in Middle Tennesee, Dr. Thomas Dovan and Dr. Samuel Crosby specialize in hand and upper extremity treatments. They possess extensive training and experience in managing frozen shoulder and related conditions, offering specialized care for optimal recovery.

Other sports medicine specialists at Elite treat additional shoulder injuries.

In conclusion, frozen shoulder can significantly impact shoulder mobility and daily activities. By understanding its causes, recognizing the signs, seeking appropriate treatment, and following prevention strategies, you can manage and alleviate the symptoms of frozen shoulder. If you require expert care, the specialized shoulder specialists at Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopaedics are equipped to provide comprehensive treatment and guide you on your journey to recovery.

Cassie Whittaker Cassie is the Communications Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2020.

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