Menopause frozen shoulder is a non-diagnostic way to describe frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) that specifically affects menopausal women.
While we can’t say that menopause causes frozen shoulder, we do know that frozen shoulder affects people in their 40s-60s more than any other age group. Of those, 70% are women.
There are several factors that can contribute to menopause frozen shoulder, including ongoing low grade inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, thyroid disorders, hormonal changes, obesity, lack of exercise, and previous injuries.
The most common symptom of menopause frozen shoulder is pain. Pain may be constant or may come and go. It may be mild or severe. Some women have described it as similar to childbirth. However, the pain lasts longer and doesn’t end with a sweet baby to cuddle.
Other symptoms of menopause frozen shoulder include:
* Stiffness in the shoulder joint
* Difficulty moving the shoulder joint
* Swelling in the shoulder joint
* Weakness in the muscles around the shoulder joint
Most frozen shoulders get better on their own, but it can take up to three years. To speed up the healing process, catch the problem early and focus on stretching and strengthening exercises to improve mobility.
18 Ways to Get Relief from Menopause Frozen Shoulder Pain
Here are 18 ways to get relief from menopause frozen shoulder. Talk with your doctor to see which ones are right for you.
- Oral Medication. Prednisone and other oral corticosteroids can be effective in reducing inflammation. NSAIDs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen can also help reduce the swelling and pain. Check with your doctor before taking any medication, as there can be potential side effects.
- First Aid. At the risk of stating the obvious, alternating ice and heat on your shoulder is a quick way to get relief. Gentle massage and CBD cream (where allowed) can also help.
- Stretches. Gentle stretching exercises can loosen the shoulder joint and provide pain relief. It’s important to only stretch up to a tolerable level because overdoing it can worsen the problem. Check with a doctor or physical therapist to choose the right exercises for you.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy helps reduce pain and improve shoulder mobility with supported range-of-motion exercises. The exercises are simple to do at home because consistency is key. Depending on the stage of frozen shoulder, exercises may focus on stretching and strengthening the muscles around the shoulder joint and/or restoring normal range of motion.
- Calcitonin therapy. Using a calcitonin nasal spray may help relieve the symptoms of a frozen shoulder. Calcitonin is a hormone produced by the thyroid gland. It lowers calcium levels in the blood, which may help reduce fibrous tissue buildup in the joints.
- Therapeutic ultrasound. Therapeutic ultrasound is done in your doctor’s office. The device emits sound waves that penetrate the tissue and create heat. The heat helps reduce pain and inflammation. Treatment is usually administered in a series over a period of several weeks.
- TENS therapy. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) sends low-voltage electric currents to the muscles, which can help reduce pain. As in therapeutic ultrasound, treatment is administered in a series of sessions over time.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Estrogen has a protective effect on bones and joints and is one of the main hormones in hormone replacement therapy (HRT). There is some anecdotal evidence that frozen shoulders have resolved with HRT by restoring hormone balance.
- Corticosteroid and saline injections. Corticosteroid injections are a common treatment for frozen shoulder pain. The medication is injected into the shoulder joint but it may take several days to feel the full effect. Saline injections have also been shown to be effective in the short term. All injections must be delivered at specific points in the joint under X-ray guidance.
- Nerve blocks. Nerve blocks is a technique where a doctor injects an anesthetic or anti-inflammatory into a nerve or a cluster of nerve endings. They disrupt pain signals to the brain. However, they don’t stop fibrous tissue from building up in the joint.
- Platelet-Rich Protein (PRP) Injections. PRP injections are made up of a concentrated mix of platelets and plasma, which are derived from the patient’s own blood. Injecting this mixture into the shoulder promotes healing of the tissues and helps reduce pain and inflammation.
- Posture. If you hunch over a keyboard at a desk all day, you may have long, weak spine and back muscles paired with shorter chest muscles causing a condition known as Upper Cross Syndrome. This muscle imbalance makes your shoulders roll forward which contributes to pain and loss of motion. Posture improving exercises can help.
- Diet. A ketogenic diet may be beneficial for frozen shoulder because it has been shown to reduce overall inflammation. This style of eating is low in carbohydrates, adequate in protein, and high in fat. No matter what diet you choose, avoid foods that are high in additives. Also avoid cereals with a high gliadin content. Gliadin is a class of proteins that increases inflammation. It’s found in wheat and certain other cereals.
- Circulation. Healthy blood circulation promotes healing. Remember to apply heat and keep up with appropriate exercise. Alternative practices like cupping, acupuncture, and massaging may also help.
- Surgical manipulation. Surgical manipulation is done under anesthesia to stretch the tissue and forcibly mobilize the shoulder.
- Arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that removes scar tissue and cuts through tight tissues to release the capsule around the shoulder joint. It is a last resort when other treatment options have failed.
- Underlying conditions. Diabetes, menopause, and thyroid disorders are all risk factors for developing frozen shoulder. Treating these underlying concerns can help improve your joints.
- Other healing modalities. Check out other modalities to support your health. For example, naturopaths can help with hormone balance and acupuncturists can help with pain and overall well-being.
Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes. It is not medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before making changes that affect your health.