Frozen Shoulder Puts a Chill on Movement

Stiffness and inflammation simply take time to subside

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FRIDAY, Feb. 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Pain felt when reaching above your head or across your body could be the first sign of a joint problem called frozen shoulder.

That stiff joint will likely loosen and "thaw" over time and with proper medical treatment, says an article in the February issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.

Frozen shoulder occurs when tissues around the ball and socket of the shoulder become inflamed. The cause of this inflammation, however, is unknown. It can happen to anyone, but frozen shoulder occurs most often in people in their 50s and 60s and in people with diabetes.

The condition usually develops slowly and in stages. The first stage, lasting two to nine months, involves pain with any shoulder movement. That's followed by increased stiffness in the shoulder and reduced range of motion, but less pain. This stage lasts 4 to 12 months.

Then, over the next year, the thaw may begin. This sometimes occurs on its own, but many people require help from a doctor or physical therapist. Treatments may include stretching, application of heat or cold, corticosteroid injections into the shoulder joint, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about frozen shoulder.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, February 2004

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