What Is a Frozen Shoulder?

By jolene
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
Feb 7, 2020
Medical Expert Medical Expert

A frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, refers to a stiff and painful shoulder. Per the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons, a frozen shoulder can be defined as “a condition of uncertain etiology characterized by significant restriction of both active and passive shoulder motion that occurs in the absence of a known intrinsic shoulder disorder.” Meanwhile, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons define it as “a condition of varying severity characterized by gradual development of global limitation of active and passive shoulder motion where radiographic findings other than osteopenia are absent.”

This means that the shoulder capsule is affected. This includes the connective tissue that surrounds the shoulder or glenohumeral joint causing it to become stiff and inflamed. This condition restricts motion and lead to chronic pain. Despite being unclear regarding the cause of frozen shoulder, some believe that it may be caused by trauma or injury to the area while others think it may have an autoimmune component.

1. Epidemiology

Frozen shoulder is observed to most commonly affect patients between the ages of 40 to 60 years old. Although the exact incidence is unclear, it is thought to occur in approximately 2% to 5% of the general population (at some point in life). While women tend to be affected more commonly compared to men, there does not seem to be any predilection for race. Generally, the involvement of both shoulders is rarely concurrently and it tends to occur sequentially. One of the most important risk factors for frozen shoulder is diabetes mellitus. A meta-analysis found that diabetic patients are 5 times more likely to develop this condition compared to their nondiabetic peers. It is estimated that there is a 13.4% overall mean prevalence of frozen shoulder among diabetics and a 30% mean prevalence of diabetes among patients with frozen shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder

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