Does Frozen Shoulder Come Back (Reoccur)?

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Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) can take so long to heal. In fact, the progression of the disease and the long time for recovery can take months or even years. The good news, typically it is eventually curable. But some people worry about the chance of the disease to come back (reoccur).

Topic overview

Like other joints, the joint of your shoulder is made of three major components; bones, tendons, and ligaments. These structures are encased by a shoulder capsule of connective tissue.

This capsule is normally lubricated by natural joint fluid (synovial fluid) so thus it can move flexibly. And frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule is tightened and thickened. Adhesions (stiff tissue bands) may develop, and the amount of synovial fluid is usually lower than normal.

image_illustration328It’s not fully understood yet what triggers the change. But some risk factors have been known, these include:

  1. Gender, men is less likely to have it. In fact, women are more often affected by adhesive capsulitis than men.
  2. It is commonly found in people at the ages of 40 to 60.
  3. Any conditions that can make you have a prolonged period of shoulder joint immobility. These may include spending time in hospital, suffering from stroke, recovering from surgery, and so on.
  4. Other shoulder conditions, particularly such as broken arm and rotator cuff injury
  5. Some systemic or chronic conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems, Parkinson’s disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Typically, adhesive capsulitis affects one shoulder joint. But in a few cases, it can affect both shoulders, too (see more in here)!

The earlier diagnosis can play a key role for the outcome of the problem. If the disease is diagnosed at early stage and then you take the appropriate treatment earlier, you are less likely to experience the severe form of the disease.

Taking appropriate treatment as early as possible can make your frozen shoulder become easier to treat and the time for recovery can go faster.

So if you in-doubt to any pain symptom in your shoulder, it’s much better to make appointment with your doctor promptly!

It usually develops gradually that can take several months or even a year. The same goes for the recovery. And there are 3 main stages of how the disease develops, these include:

  1. Stage-I (painful months). In this period, the shoulder joint starts to thicken and tighten. Any movement with the shoulder can be painful.
  2. Stage-II (frozen, adhesive phase). In the end of stage-I, the pain symptoms start to ease but the stiffness symptoms increase, and then you will enter to the stage-II of the disease. In this stage, the joint’s range of motion can decrease significantly or even you may not be able to move it at all.
  3. Stage-III (recovery, thawing phase). Again, many times adhesive capsulitis is curable. But how long the recovery takes can vary from patient to patient. The outcome of recovery can vary, too. While some can regain the normal function of the joint, others may still find little difficulties in using the joint. But overall, you should be able to do many more tasks with the shoulder.

Does this shoulder joint problem recur or will it come back?

The answer may vary, typically depending on whether or not the problem is linked to another condition.

For instance – if a contributing factor such as chronic high blood sugar (diabetes) is still present, frozen shoulder may recur. Fortunately, the recurrence of the problem is not common.


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