Is your shoulder acting weird? Maybe you woke up with a stiff neck or felt a twinge when you turned suddenly. Or maybe you’ve been dealing with a lot of stress lately.
Whatever the reason, if you’ve noticed your shoulder aches and has started to stiffen up, you might be dealing with a frozen shoulder.
Frozen shoulder is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder. Also known as adhesive capsulitis, it usually comes on gradually, and can last for months—or even years. While frozen shoulder is most common in women over the age of 40, it can happen to anyone.
In this blog post, we’ll go over possible causes, symptoms, treatment options and why it’s sometimes known as “menopause frozen shoulder.”
What causes frozen shoulder?
The cause of frozen shoulder is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to connective tissue changes and inflammation in the shoulder joint.
There are several contributing risk factors including menopause, age (40 years or older), diabetes, hypertension, prior shoulder injury or surgery, thyroid problems, cardiovascular disease, and previous frozen shoulder in either shoulder.
What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder?
The main symptom of frozen shoulder is pain in the shoulder area. The pain may start gradually and get worse over time. The symptoms may come on slowly and get worse over time. They may also come and go.
Other symptoms of frozen shoulder include:
- Pain that is worse at night and when moving the affected arm
- Stiffness in the shoulder that limits ability to move the arm
- Weakness in the affected arm
- A limited range of motion in the affected arm
- A feeling that the arm “is catching” when it is moved
The 3 Phases of Frozen Shoulder
Frozen shoulder has three phases: freezing, frozen, and thawing.
In the freezing phase, pain and stiffness in the shoulder get worse until it reaches a plateau. At that point, you’re in the frozen phase. The pain may lessen somewhat, but the stiffness continues to worsen. And finally, the shoulder starts to thaw out and the stiffness and pain gradually subside.
Each phase can last anywhere from weeks to months.
How is frozen shoulder treated?
It’s common for frozen shoulder to get better on its own. However, your doctor may run tests to rule out other conditions such as a rotator cuff tear or arthritis.
Treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms and how long you’ve had them. If formal treatment is necessary, options include:
- Physical therapy to improve range of motion and reduce pain
- Exercise to keep the shoulder flexible and strong
- Pain medication to ease symptoms
- Steroid injections or surgery, in severe cases
What to Do Next for Menopause Frozen Shoulder
If you’re experiencing pain and stiffness in your shoulder, especially if you’re a women over 40 years old, you may be suffering menopause-related frozen shoulder.
While the condition can be painful, there are treatments that can help. With proper treatment, most people regain full range of motion and functionality of their affected arm. The secret is to go at your own pace and be consistent with exercise so you can quickly get back to normal activities.
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.