How to Tell If You Have Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder is a common problem that causes shoulder pain. What is this condition? How would an orthopedic doctor in San Francisco best treat it? Learn about the phases of a frozen shoulder, and what to expect in terms of recovery from this condition. The length of the process might be surprising.

Phase One: Freezing (6 weeks to 6 months)

During this phase, the shoulder capsule is thickening and shrinking. As this happens, shoulder movements become increasingly difficult and painful. Motion may only be slightly restricted at the beginning, and is often misdiagnosed as a problem with the rotator cuff.

Phase Two: Frozen (4 months to 6 months)

During this phase, the shoulder is notably stiff. The characteristic examination finding that confirms the diagnosis is that not only can the patient not move the shoulder normally, neither can someone else trying to manipulate the shoulder.

Pain is typically less in this phase than the freezing phase, but can still occur during simple activities such as washing hair, hooking a bra, or reaching for a seat belt.

Phase Three: Thawing (6 months to 2 years)

In this phase, the capsule of the shoulder joint gradually loosens. It is important to stretch the shoulder capsule and even allow for some discomfort to ensure the shoulder joint mobility continues to recover.

Treatment of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder treatment is almost always best accomplished with physical therapy and stretching of the joint. Pain medications, ice and heat application, and alternative therapies can all be helpful to manage the discomfort.

Orthopedic surgery in San Francisco may be the option for treatment of a frozen shoulder if prolonged efforts with the mentioned therapies fail to resolve symptoms.

Seek Professional Help Healing Your Shoulder

A shoulder surgeon in San Francisco will prescribe individualized therapy to speed recovery and reduce the discomfort of a frozen shoulder. Over time, almost all patients will find complete relief of pain, and normal or near-normal range of motion of the shoulder joint.

Contact Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht by calling (415) 923-0944 or by filling out our contact form for a consultation if you have questions about frozen shoulder.