Is Frozen Shoulder a Virus or Autoimmune Disease (FAQs)?

Frozen shoulder (medically called ‘adhesive capsulitis’) is not fully understood yet. Although some risk factors have been identified, but many times the exact cause of the problem is not known. It can be so stiff and painful enough to affect your daily routines. But is it a virus or an autoimmune disease?

The answer: It is not both virus and autoimmune condition!

As mentioned before, the cause is not clearly yet. But so far, there is still no evidence that it links to viral infection or autoimmune condition.

image_illustration332In essence, experts believe that your risk to have the problem increases when you have any conditions or diseases that cause shoulder immobility for a long period of time.

For instance, if you are suffering from stroke, the affected side immobility may lead to frozen shoulder in the same side. Even spending many weeks in hospital may increase the risk, too.

Your shoulder joint is actually a kind of ball and socket joint. Most of essential shoulder joint structures are encased by tough, flexible capsule of connective tissue (see more structures of the shoulder in this post).

This capsule is naturally designed flexible to provide flexible shoulder range of motion. It can be fully stretched when you push your arm rise above your head. And when you lower your arm, the capsule hangs down as a small pouch.

In patients with adhesive capsulitis, there is something wrong with this capsule.

In general, you can have this joint condition if your shoulder capsule of connective tissue thickens and tightens. But there is still no clearly answer why this occurs. See in-depth information about how you get frozen shoulder in here!

Other FAQs

The following are other FAQs (frequently asked questions) about frozen shoulder!

Is it genetic (hereditary condition)?

Currently, there is no adequate scientific evidence to confirm that having a family history of adhesive capsulitis can increase the risk of developing the same condition.

So far, experts believe that it is not a genetic condition! However some risk factors of the problem can be inherited.

For instance, diabetes is a significant risk factor of frozen shoulder. In fact, many diabetics experience this shoulder condition. And if you have a family history of diabetes, you are greater risk of having the same condition.

Your family medical history is unchangeable. There is nothing you can do to change it. But you can modify other risk factors of diabetes. With healthy lifestyle measures, diabetes is a preventable condition.

Is it related to lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, a condition in which the abnormality of the body immune system plays a key role in causing the problem.  It can be chronic inflammatory condition.

Interestingly, lupus can attack the joint, too. The joint affected by lupus can be similar to what happen in rheumatoid arthritis (an arthritis form that also links to the immune system abnormality) – see more this issue in this article!

And sometimes the frozen shoulder symptoms may resemble symptoms of arthritis or joint problem triggered by lupus. But it has nothing to do with lupus!

Is it permanent or curable?

The pain and stiffness symptoms can last for many weeks or even months. For some patients who don’t completely understand about the problem or who have it for the first time, they may think that their problem doesn’t go away and it may become permanent.

Yap, it can take so long to improve. But although it can be very bothersome and so painful, the good news it is treatable and curable! Even it may go away on its own without treatment.

Is it a disability?

Frozen shoulder can be severe enough to drastically reduce your shoulder function. Even in severe case, it can temporarily make you lose control on the shoulder so thus you may be temporarily qualified to apply for disability.

But as mentioned before, many times it is curable. Though it can take so long to heal, but eventually you will get your recovery and you should be able to do more many tasks with the shoulder. Even in many cases, the normal function of shoulder returns completely.

Is it recurring?

Now you know that mostly it is curable. However some patients worry that the problem may come back or even may affect the same shoulder for the second time.

Yap, in rare cases, it can return. The chance to have the same problem for the second time is also dependent on the underlying condition of the problem.

For instance, if your frozen shoulder is linked to your poorly-controlled diabetes, there is still a chance for it to recur. But as long as your blood sugar is well controlled, there should be nothing to worry.

See more the issue of the frozen shoulder recurrence in this article!