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

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopaedic 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 advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

Experts in Shoulder and Elbow Surgery

The shoulder and elbow specialists at Penn State Health are board-certified orthopaedic surgeons and fellowship trained in all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery. Their expertise includes arthroscopic surgery, treatment of sports injuries, total joint replacement and fractures. They hold a unique position in central Pennsylvania because of their ability to combine extensive clinical and surgical experience with current research. This means that they can offer the best solution for your shoulder or elbow problem.

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 their 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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