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Frozen Shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)

I generally prefer not to chat about my medical conditions online. However, I've decided to compile a bunch of links to online pages about frozen shoulder and share what little I know.

I have had the same set of symptoms several times on the past 8 years. Each time the pain and stiffness flared up, I'd seek medical expertise. Unfortunately, docs disagreed on a specific diagnosis and what to do about it (bursitis, tendenitis, Yes, contrary to the so called medical experts, it does reoccur.

The first time I had a frozen shoulder my condition built up to a point when I'd drop to my knees when the pain hit; it was so sudden and intense. My specialist at the time recommended physical therapy; and if that didn't work - surgery. During the PT phase, which a joke, I read that FSS eventually clears up on its own, so I opted out of surgery.

A couple of years later, the other shoulder. Generally, the pain and stiffness phases were not as bad as the first. A few years later, it hit both shoulders. Same pattern each time; gradual increase in pain, until I couldn't sleep on that side, couldn't easily do basic tasks easily like dressing, getting in/out of the car, carrying things. Then a simultaneous reduction in pain as the stiffness (frozen stage) increased. Then a gradual reduction in stiffness.

My PCPs over the years haven't been much help, except to all agree it's some form of inflammation. I've gotten the feeling they not terribly excited about the condition since there's not much research, no good understanding of its cause, no exciting treatment options and it's not a fatal condition. In other words, it's about as exciting for them to treat as the common cold. Thus, I've learned to expect nothing from them.

I've concluded the web is the best source for any information, support, etc. There seems to be tons more info online about this than there was when this condition first hit me. I have found a few discussions online (maybe just one) that referenced FSS as possibly being an auto-immune disorder, since it's commonly associated with patients with Diabetes or Graves Disease. But that's apparent speculation.

I truly believe most minor medical problems (FSS, allergies, skin sensitivities, fungal infections) are all tied to one big immunity problem; the body is not able to properly recognize and appropriately respond to the various chemicals and organisms. It's general response is inflammation and pain.

But now that I know what it is and how to recognize the FSS symptoms, when the pain makes a hint of starting, instead of mothering my shoulder, I will stretch it more during the day and heat pad it at night. It's a form of preventative physical therapy, which I think works far better than whatever is done once the condition is well established. So I haven't had the kind of pain I had during my first time and the stiffness doesn't last as long.

I'm not suffering from shoulder stiffness nor pain at the moment, but I think I'm as ready as I can be if it hits again.

My only wish - a tall horizontal bar to hang from to stretch my shoulders and keep them limber. Keeping the shoulders flexible and well exercised is the key, I think, to keeping this condition under control; at least until someone figures out how to get an immune and/or endocrine system back into good working order.


Links to some good information about frozen shoulder:

OrthoGate: Adhesive Capsulitis

  • Looks like a good general discussion.

Frozen Shoulder
(Adhesive Capsulitis )

  • I like this page because it mentions a possible association between FS and thyroid disease, which I also suffer from. It also mentions the condition doesn't seem to occur in any other joint in the body. I have my doubts but no evidence; just doubts because I'm a natural skeptic about poorly defined medical conditions.

about.com's Orthopedics: Frozen Shoulder

  • Looks like some comprehensive info, plus a nice little picture


  • Who knew? A whole site devoted to the frozen shoulder syndrome. I've no idea if this place is any good though. The Niel-Asher Technique®? What's up with that? Buyer beware!

Chet's FSS prevention

  • I'm not a big believer that a diet of minimally processed foods will help prevent my immune system from attacking my shoulder, but most of the rest of the info on this page seems useful. Thanks, Chet.


Last update to this page: 3 Aug 08. Send comments, questions or suggestions to Desiree McCrorey.