Adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder, is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. It occurs when the connective tissues surrounding the shoulder joint become thickened and tight, leading to a decrease in the joint’s range of motion.
The exact cause of adhesive capsulitis is not fully understood, but certain factors can increase the risk of developing this condition. These include age (more common in individuals over 40), gender (women are more prone to develop it), certain medical conditions (such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, and cardiovascular disease), and previous shoulder injuries or surgeries.
The hallmark symptom of adhesive capsulitis is shoulder pain that gradually worsens and limits the ability to move the shoulder in all directions. The pain is often described as deep and aching, and it may be worse at night or during activities that require overhead movement. Over time, the shoulder joint becomes increasingly stiff, making it difficult to perform daily tasks or participate in physical activities.
The natural course of adhesive capsulitis involves three stages:
1. Freezing stage: This is characterized by the onset of pain and progressive loss of shoulder motion. The shoulder gradually becomes more stiff and movement becomes limited.
2. Frozen stage: During this stage, the pain may decrease, but the shoulder remains stiff and movement is significantly restricted. Daily activities become more challenging.
3. Thawing stage: In this stage, shoulder motion gradually improves, and pain subsides. Full recovery may take several months to years, and some individuals may experience residual stiffness or limitations.