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How to Mend Your Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Updated on October 31, 2012

The shoulder is primarily composed of three bones: the humerus (upper arm), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collarbone). The shoulder joint is the largest ball-and-socket joint in the body, with the humerus fitting into a cavity in the scapula (this cavity is also referred to as the glenoid cavity). This joint is then protected by a flexible capsule that is surrounded by tendons that also compose the rotator cuff (supraspinatus tendon, subscapularis tendon, infraspinatus tendon, and teres minor tendon). This capsule that encases the joint has a membrane that produces a fluid to lubricate the joint allowing for superior movement of the arm and shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder, also know as Adhesive Capsulitis, is a condition in which scar tissue is formed on the capsule encasing the shoulder joint; which forces the capsule to contract and ultimately restricts movement.

Additional Information Treatment Options

Although there is no known direct cause of this condition, there are specific conditions or circumstances that may adversely affect the shoulder joint.

Individuals previously suffering from an acute shoulder injury, that have had other shoulder injuries (rotator cuff tears, shoulder bursitis or impingement syndrome), or that have undergone a previous surgical procedure are at risk of developing Frozen Shoulder. In these cases, a previous condition or circumstance has lead to either abnormal use of the shoulder or significant periods of immobilization. Moreover, individuals with predisposing systemic conditions (such as heart disease, or parkinson's disease), or endocrine disorders (such as diabetes, or thyroid issues) have a higher risk of developing Frozen Shoulder.

Conversely, some physicians believe that Frozen Shoulder may be caused by an autoimmune reaction in which the body has attacked tissue in the shoulder causing extreme inflammation.

Symptoms & Condition Progression

What Symptoms Should You Expect?

Initially you will experience pain or inflammation around the front and sides of your shoulder. You may also experience referral pain in your upper back and down to your elbow and wrist. Due to the contraction of the capsule encasing your joint, you will notice a decrease in your range of motion and may feel pain when attempting to raise your arm in front of you or to your side. Pain may intensify when you are lying down or sleeping on the affected shoulder.

There are also specific symptoms that occur during the progression of this condition:

Stage One - "Freezing"

You will initially experience a great degree of pain and inflammation in and around your affected shoulder joint. Your shoulder may also seem tender and stiff. During this stage many individuals will begin to restrict their movement to favor their injured shoulder, however restricting movement may increase the rate at which scar tissue develops around the capsule.

This stage of the condition may last anywhere between 1 month and 9 months.

Stage Two - "Frozen"

Pain may marginally decrease at this stage; however your shoulder will become stiffer as the scar tissue surrounding your capsule hardens. Although movement during the first stage was painfully possible, you will lose most of your ability to move your arm freely during this second stage. You may even notice that you now have 50% less movement in your affected arm when comparing the movement in your non-affected arm.

This stage of the condition may last anywhere between 4 and 12 months.

Stage Three - "Thawing"

Your pain may dramatically decrease as the scar tissue around the capsule begins to loosen. As your shoulder begins to heal itself naturally you will gradually notice improved movement in your arm. It is unlikely that you will regain full movement of your arm and shoulder, however the condition will noticeably improve.

This stage of the condition may last anywhere between 5 months and 1 year.


When is Surgery an Option & What Surgical Prodcedures Mend Frozen Shoulder?

There are two procedures that are typically performed to mend a Frozen Shoulder Injury - Manipulation under Anesthesia (MUA), and Arthroscopic Capsular Release.

Manipulation under Anesthesia (MUA)

When you are under general anesthesia the surgeon will manipulate your shoulder, forcing the joint to move through your normal range of motion. By forcing the shoulder to move, this process effectively breaks up the scar tissue around your joint capsule. Although this procedure will not require any incisions or invasive techniques, there are several detrimental side effects that may occur including, but not limited to, stretching or tearing of other soft tissues in your shoulder, increased inflammation or development of additional scar tissue in your joint, dislocating or fracturing of your arm, or development of osteopenia (reduction in your bone mass or density).

Arthroscopic Capsular Release

This procedure involves inserting a fiber optic camera through a small incision on the outside of your shoulder. This allows the surgeon to view inside of your shoulder joint to assess the level of damage apparent to your joint capsule. The surgeon will then cut small portions of your joint capsule, releasing the scar tissue.


What Treatments are Available to Mend Your Frozen Shoulder?

Although many individuals with Frozen Shoulder may experience pain relief after 1 to 3 years of living with this condition, there are several non-invasive treatment methods that will aid in speeding up this natural healing process.

ColdCure® Technology

As soon as your shoulder is injured your body triggers natural events that isolate damaged tissue and prepare it for healing. The main symptoms you will immediately feel after injury - the swelling, redness (rubor), heat (calor), pain (dolor), and loss of function - are really just signs that your body is starting to heal.

Unfortunately when your shoulder capsule is swollen and inflamed the damaged tissue is blocking vital blood flow from coming into the tissue to continue the natural healing process. When your blood flow is blocked, the other healthy tissue in your shoulder is starved of oxygen, nutrients and antibodies needed for your healthy tissue to thrive and for your injured shoulder to heal. This is why it's never good to let a new injury stay untreated for too long.

Using cold compression immediately following a shoulder injury, re-injury, or surgery reduces pain and swelling and reduces the tissue damage that occurs with soft tissue injuries.

Click here to learn more about
ColdCure® Tehcnology

Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy

What can be done for your shoulder when the swelling is gone, but the pain is still there? Once the swelling is gone our bodies are starving for the naturally occurring oxygen, nutrients, antibodies and energy available in our blood. Blood flow is like the life force of our bodies, and the healing process really takes off only when the shoulder receives proper blood flow.

If you want to heal quickly you need to keep your blood flow moving constantly, but you also need to make sure your shoulder is actively getting rid of cellular waste and toxins. This is where BFST® comes in, but what exactly is BFST® and how can it help to accelerate healing?

BFST® is exactly what it seems - it's a therapy that substantially increases the flow of blood to your shoulder without the need to exercise your already damaged tissue.

Think about your injured soft tissue as if it is a sponge that has dried out. Your damaged tissue is waiting there ready to absorb all of the benefits of increased blood flow but your body is unable to keep up with the demand of what your tissue needs. BFST® boosts your body's natural blood flow, delivering oxygen, nutrients, antibodies and energy directly to the source of your pain. Once you start receiving all of the benefits BFST® has to offer your injured shoulder becomes like a sponge that now has enough blood flow within reach to soak up everything good that is in your blood flow. Increased blood flow through BFST® also acts as a cleanser for your tissue, whisking away all toxins and cellular waste.

Click here to learn more about
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy

Treating Your Frozen Shoulder!

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If you have any questions about shoulder injuries please feel free to comment on our Lens. You can also reach one of our MendMeShop Advisors directly via phone or e-mail at

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We look forward to hearing from you!

The MendMeShop Advisor Team :)

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