Frozen Shoulder

Find out more about frozen shoulder and how Torrance Pain Institute can help you manage your pain, improve your quality of life, and get back to doing the things you enjoy.

Unbearable pain in your shoulder will make it difficult for you to move it normally. If you suffer from this, you may have a condition called “frozen shoulder.”

What is a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder comes with pain and stiffness that limits its range of motion. This condition is characterized by tissues in the shoulder joint growing thicker and tighter, which limits its space to rotate.

Symptoms start gradually and follow three phases: 1) Freezing stage, when movement causes pain; 2) Frozen stage when the pain subsides but stiffness settles in, and 3) Thawing stage when the condition improves.

Some patients report the pain getting worse at night and disrupting their sleep. This condition can worsen over time, then resolve within one to three years. 

While the cause is unknown, the risk increases for people who:

  • Are immobilized for prolonged periods (e.g. those who had a stroke or injury)
  • Have Parkinson’s disease
  • Took medications to treat HIV
  • Have thyroid gland conditions

How is a frozen shoulder diagnosed?

To get a proper diagnosis, expect your doctor to do the following:

  • Conduct physical exam to check the pain level and how far you can move it
  • You’ll perform specific shoulder/arm movements
  • The doctor will move your shoulder for you
  • You may be given an anesthetic for pain relief so you can move better

While a physical exam is often enough, you also need to have an x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI to rule out other conditions/abnormalities.

What is the treatment for a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder can be treated via physical therapy, medication, surgery, or home care. Your doctor may also recommend that you undergo a suprascapular nerve block (SSNB) treatment (injecting anesthetic on the shoulder for pain relief). Call Torrance Pain Institute today to learn more about SSNB.