What Causes And Increases The Risk Of Frozen Shoulder?

April 9, 2024

Adhesive capsulitis, otherwise known as frozen shoulder, is a condition defined by pain and stiffness in the shoulder. The symptoms usually appear and progress gradually before resolving. Frozen shoulder's progression tends to last between one and three years. A number of conditions and circumstances can increase the risk of an individual developing frozen shoulder. The treatment for this condition, which often relies on understanding the cause, typically involves exercises to increase the patient's range of motion. In some cases, patients are treated with numbing medications injected into the affected joint. Corticosteroids are also sometimes helpful. There are rare cases in which an individual may undergo arthroscopic surgery to loosen their joint and allow a freer range of motion.

Thickening Of Connective Tissue Capsule

The shoulder is made up of a group of tendons, ligaments, and bones. These are encased in a capsule made of connective tissue. When there's a thickening of this connective tissue capsule, the tissue tightens around the shoulder, restricting the overall movement of the joint. Doctors haven't yet discovered what physical process triggers the tightening of this capsule, though they have identified a number of risk factors. The condition also occurs more commonly in patients over forty years old, especially women over this age. If an individual is at risk of developing frozen shoulder, it's important for them to talk to a doctor about how to preserve their shoulder's range of motion.

Diabetes Patients

Diabetes patients seem to have a higher likelihood of developing frozen shoulder than others, although doctors aren't sure why this is. Diabetes is a disease that causes the levels of sugar in the blood to be too high or low. The body produces a hormone called insulin, which helps sugar enter the cells to give energy. Individuals with type 1 diabetes don't produce insulin, so their bodies can't process sugar the way they're supposed to. Type 2 diabetes is the more common type, in which the body can make insulin, but it has trouble using it or making the correct amount. Diabetes can cause a number of problems aside from frozen shoulder, including damaging the nerves, kidneys, and eyes. In addition, it can cause stroke, heart disease, and problems with the feet.

Shoulder Immobilization

Frozen shoulder commonly occurs in patients who have had a shoulder injury, primarily because of shoulder immobilization. Shoulder immobilization can encourage the connective tissue around the joint to tighten, since the patient isn't exercising their usual range of motion as often. Common injuries that result in shoulder immobilization include a rotator cuff injury or a broken arm or dislocated shoulder. Additionally, some patients who have reduced movement in their shoulder because of a stroke develop frozen shoulder. The condition may also occur in patients recovering from shoulder surgery or another surgery that requires the shoulder to be immobilized. It's best for individuals with shoulder injuries and immobilized shoulders to ask their doctors about what exercises they should do to preserve their range of motion. Depending on the injury, a general physician may refer the patient to a physical therapist.

Issues With The Thyroid

Issues with the thyroid seem to increase a patient's risk of developing frozen shoulder, although like with diabetes, doctors aren't quite sure of the precise reason for this. The thyroid produces hormones that regulate an individual's metabolic rate, controlling how fast the body uses energy. An overactive thyroid can result in a condition called hyperthyroidism, and occurs when the thyroid produces excess hormone. When the thyroid doesn't produce the right amount of hormone, the condition is called hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can cause unusual weight loss and irregular or rapid heartbeats. The condition can be serious when undiagnosed, but a number of medications and other treatments can manage it. Hypothyroidism occurs when the body doesn't have enough thyroid hormone to run the metabolism at the correct speed, which can lead to weight gain, fatigue, and other symptoms.


Tuberculosis patients may also have an increased risk of developing frozen shoulder. Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that can damage the lungs and other areas of the body. When individuals with this condition talk, sneeze, or cough, the bacteria spread through the air. Individuals with weak immune systems are more likely to contract tuberculosis. A number of symptoms are associated with tuberculosis, such as weight loss, loss of appetite, and a cough lasting at least three weeks. Patients may also experience weakness, fatigue, and night sweating. Doctors can diagnose tuberculosis with x-rays, blood tests, and skin tests. The condition can usually be cured with medication taken over a long time, but untreated tuberculosis can be fatal. It is also incredibly contagious, which is why prompt treatment and isolation are crucial.

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