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Frozen Shoulder: Is It Really Frozen? Part 1

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Frozen shoulder. When I hear that, I want to chuckle to myself, because shoulders don’t really “freeze.” Or do they?

Well, believe it or not, you shoulder can freeze and it is no chuckling matter.

Obviously, shoulders don’t freeze like my car door on a fine winter Monday morning when I am already running late for work and icicles have formed over the opening of the door and my ice scraper is trapped inside my “frozen door.”

You New Yorkers know what I am talking about! But yes, your shoulder can freeze just the same – minus the icicles – as in lock up, leaving you completely immobile and helpless to move it or use it.

Although the risk factors for frozen shoulder are drastically different from “frozen door” syndrome, the stages are eerily similar, helping my analogy. Now, I don’t encourage you to walk outside in the same weather your car door is in and think if you stand there all night you will get a frozen shoulder.

But just like your car, your shoulder begins locking up (most commonly overnight), and by the time you wake in the morning, you are completely immobile. However, unlike your car, it can take months to "thaw" out your shoulder. Wish you had a defrost button on your shoulder, don't ya?

And since I declared frozen door syndrome the official metaphor to frozen shoulder, let's break them down by ingredients so we have a better look at what leads to the "lock up." Stating the obvious, the ingredients for frozen door are car plus living in the Northeast plus below freezing temperatures minus garage to store car in = frozen door.

The ingredients for frozen shoulder can vary quite a bit, but the most common is a sudden injury or trauma to your shoulder. Pre-existing medical conditions that can offset frozen shoulder include diabetes, stroke, lung disease, connective tissue disorders and heart disease. If you have one of the above medical conditions just add your age (if you are above 40 years old) to the equation to decide whether you might be susceptible to frozen shoulder.

Of the many risk factors of frozen shoulder, accidental injury is probably the most common.

Add a Comment5 Comments

Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Glad to hear that! By the way, I talked about my treatment in Part 2 of this article. It will give you an idea of what to expect. You WILL get better, it just takes longer than any of us would like. :-)

October 12, 2010 - 10:15pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Samara - Love your article! I'm not sure that I'm a gladiator...but I sure am "glad" my frozen shoulder became unthawed and went back to normal. I had never heard of one before I had one, and it's great to see this information being provided to help others. I'm looking forward to your next post! Pat

December 14, 2009 - 6:23pm
(reply to Pat Elliott)

Pat, I have been immobile for 5 months! How long did it take to thaw? Last spring, I was under severe stress and my shoulder froze. Suggestions? Will it thaw without me doing anything? I have done everything and nothing helps.

October 10, 2010 - 8:23pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to mama-bear)

Hi mama-bear - I don't remember exactly, but it took several months altogether, probably five or six. I tried to tough it out on my own before going to see an orthopedic specialist. It took a combination of physical therapy for about three months and two cortisone shots to finally gain back my mobility and end the pain. If I had it to do all over again I would have seen the doctor much sooner and started physical therapy much earlier. If you've been immobile for five months you need to get professional treatment before it gets even worse. Please let me know what you decide to do, and I hope you will be back to normal before long. Pat

October 11, 2010 - 5:09pm
(reply to Pat Elliott)

Thanks for the push, Pat! I have an appointment with an orthopedic specialist November 5th!

October 12, 2010 - 9:59pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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