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Why Are Women More Prone to Frozen Shoulder?

Although frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a common shoulder condition, it predominantly impacts women between the ages of 40 to 60. Although menopause and hormonal imbalances could be a contributing factor to the development of frozen shoulder in women, one of the biggest risk factors is diabetes. People with diabetes have a higher rate of frozen as shoulder (10-20% compared to 2% of the general population). Other predisposing conditions may include thyroid disorders or a recent surgery. Most cases occur without an injury to the shoulder.

It is surprising how frequently this condition is missed, even by orthopedic surgeons. Not uncommonly we will see people who were told that have “impingement” or “bursitis” when in fact they have frozen shoulder. It is important to get the correct diagnosis as the approaches to treatment are much different.

Frozen shoulder causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder. Over time, movement of the shoulder decreases. The tell-tale sign is loss of range of motion, particularly the inability to get the arm to the throwing position. The pain with frozen shoulder is usually quite substantial, often being more severe that rotator cuff problems.

The condition develops in stages. It begins with an injury or inflammation of the soft tissues of the shoulder. With inflammation comes pain that is worse with movement, which limits the ability to use the joint in its full range of motion. When there is lack of motion in the shoulder the capsule surrounding the glenohumeral joint eventually thickens, losing its capacity to stretch. It tends to get worse and can lead to considerable disability. After a period of worsening symptoms, frozen shoulder does tend to get better, although full recovery may take  couple of years.

Patients should take a compressive rehabilitative approach to treating frozen shoulder which includes exercises done on a daily basis. Physical therapy, with a focus on shoulder flexibility, is the primary treatment recommendation.

See our exercise recommendations here.

The more frequent the movement, the faster a person can overcome frozen shoulder. We also find that frozen shoulder is highly responsive to a steroid or cortisone injection.  If you think you have frozen shoulder, please contact our office to make an appointment at 541-608-2595.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096757/

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/frozen-shoulder/