What is Frozen Shoulder?

Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder is a ball in socket type joint. But unlike the hip joint which is also a ball and socket joint there very little bone stability.

The boney architecture of the shoulder joint is comparable to a golf ball on a golf tee.

Therefore, in order for the shoulder to remain in place it must be stabilized by many strong ligaments that encapsulate the ball and the socket. These ligaments all together are known as the shoulder capsule.

The shoulder capsule is very important to keep the shoulder located (which is the opposite of dislocated).

Frozen Shoulder and Mobility

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. The balance between stability and instability is very important in the shoulder especially.

Frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule of the shoulder becomes tight. Also tight bands of tissue called adhesions may develop. These tightening of the capsule causes both shoulder pain and loss of motion.

Frozen shoulder usually does not involve any injury to the rotator cuff.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder

There are many causes of frozen shoulder, some known and some not. Medical diseases that are associated with increased risk of frozen shoulder include; diabetes, thyroid diseases, and Parkinson’s.

Most commonly however, frozen shoulder occurs after an injury. Usually it is not the injury directly causing the capsule to tighten, rather it is a prolonged period of immobilization.

The shoulder joint needed to move to maintain its mobility. Prolonged periods of immobilization of the shoulder will cause tightening of the capsule and then frozen shoulder. If you don’t use it, you lose it!

Will I Need Surgery?

The good news is that if you have frozen shoulder, 90% of the time it will resolve without any surgery.

Unfortunately it may take up to a year of therapy on your shoulder to regain your motion.

If you have lost motion in your shoulder and have shoulder pain, make an appointment to see your orthopedic surgeon at Westchester Sport and Spine today.

Dr. Michael Gott is a Westchester orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in sports medicine. He has also been an active member of the National Ski Patrol as well as a Member of the Windham Mountain Ski Patrol for 18 years.