Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a debilitating but normally temporary condition that is characterized by an extended period of pain and stiffness in your shoulder. Symptoms usually subside and functionality returns to normal after up to three years.
A number of health conditions can increase your likelihood of developing frozen shoulder. A few of them include having surgery in which your arm was immobilized, suffering an arm fracture, having a thyroid issue, or having diabetes.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, proper management of the disease is critical to reducing your risk of complications, including frozen shoulder. Let’s talk about how frozen shoulder can occur with diabetes, and where you can go for treatment that helps alleviate your symptoms.
The Connection Between Frozen Shoulder and Diabetes
It is believed that frozen shoulder can happen because the collagen in the shoulder capsule becomes sticky due to sugar (glucose) molecules that are attached to it. Collagen is the main component in tendons and ligaments – which connect muscles to bones and bones to bones (respectively) – and eventually, the changes to the collagen begin to restrict movement. This is due to a process called glycosylation, in which glucose molecules attach to protein molecules.
Studies show that people who have diabetes are twice as likely to develop frozen shoulder as those who are not diabetic. This is because of their relatively high levels of blood sugar, which can affect other areas of the body.
What Happens in Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder develops due to these inflammatory changes in the connective tissues in the shoulder. The inflammation of the connective tissues can severely restrict the movement of the shoulder joint.
Frozen shoulder occurs in three phases:
Freezing stage. At this stage, moving your shoulder becomes painful, and the range of motion of the joint is gradually becoming limited. You may experience muscle spasms around the shoulder. This stage usually lasts from one to nine months.
Frozen stage. At this stage, you may actually begin to experience an improvement of the pain. However, the shoulder becomes much more stiff. This usually lasts for four to six months.
Thawing stage. The thawing stage is where you’ll begin to experience an improvement in all of your symptoms, and this stage can last anywhere from six months to a couple of years. For some patients, the residual effects of frozen shoulder never completely go away.
Orthopedic Doctor in San Antonio, TX
If you are experiencing shoulder pain and stiffness, our orthopedic doctors here at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine can help relieve the symptoms and restore your shoulder to normal function. Our medical team has many years of experience treating musculoskeletal issues of all kinds, from arthritis to tennis elbow to frozen shoulder.
To schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (210) 692-7400 or by filling out our convenient online form. We look forward to serving you!