Shoulder Stiffness and Pain

More than three million people each year are diagnosed with frozen shoulder, a condition that causes shoulder stiffness and pain. The shoulder is a complex joint, with three bones surrounded by connective tissue. When you develop frozen shoulder, this tissues thickens, causing stiffness and mobility issues within your shoulder joint.

Frozen shoulder is associated with a variety of issues, including:

  • Age
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Surgery
  • Thyroid disease
  • Trauma

There are three stages to frozen shoulder:

  • Freezing – Lasting six weeks to nine weeks, it is when your pain starts low and worsens over time. You lose range of motion in your shoulder during this time.
  • Frozen – Lasting four to eighteen months, the pain lessens, but the stiffness and mobility issues continue. During this stage, daily activities are difficult.
  • Thawing – Lasting six months to two years, your shoulder pain and movement improves, resulting in return to normal strength and motion.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Frozen shoulder symptoms are primarily pain and inability to move your shoulder normally. The symptoms may begin mild, but get worse over time, until you no longer can perform your routine daily functions, like dressing or sleeping.

Diagnosis for frozen shoulder may include:

  • Physical exam
  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Frozen shoulder will get better with time and proper treatment you can regain full function of your shoulder. Treatments may include stretching, medication, physical therapy or surgery.

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

Coordinated, Specialized Care Through a Dedicated Institute

Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).

Designated as a Blue Distinction® Center

Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.

Confidence in Treatment Through Education

We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.

Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

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