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Dealing with shoulder pain can be difficult as it makes every activity, even sleep, challenging. However, if shoulder pain worsens at night, it could indicate a frozen shoulder. According to Dr. Christopher Camp, an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic, the clinical term for frozen shoulder is adhesive capsulitis. With this condition, the shoulder tightens, thus restricting movement.

Dr. Camp explains that a frozen shoulder could result from a minor injury that causes the lining surrounding the shoulder joint to inflame. Repeated inflammation of this lining causes it to thicken and form scar tissue.

Stages of adhesive capsulitis

There are three stages of the frozen shoulder. These stages are vital to know as they determine the patient’s treatment. It also demonstrates the severity of the illness. The first stage is the inflammatory stage. The patient experiences pain during this phase. Doctors recommend steroid injections and rest to alleviate the pain. This phase can last from 6 weeks to 9 months 

The next stage of a frozen shoulder is the stiffening stage. In this phase, the pain lessens, but the shoulder stiffens, making movement difficult. Physical therapy can help restore movement in this case. The third stage is thawing. Here, the shoulder relaxes, and the patient regains motion. However, doctors might recommend surgery if the dozen shoulder doesn’t end in about 6 to 12 months.

Groups at risk for the disease

Frozen shoulder is more common in people whose arms have been immobile for a long or those with diabetes. It is also more common in people aged 40 to 60. Women are at a higher risk of developing the disease than men.

Experts are unsure of the reason frozen shoulder is common in patients with diabetes. However, these patients typically experience a longer stiffness period. Other diseases that put people at risk for frozen shoulder are cardiac disease, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism.

Doctors diagnose a frozen shoulder with a physical exam. For example, a doctor could ask you to move your shoulder n different directions to examine the range of motion. They will then move your shoulder by themselves and compare the results. People with the disease will have restricted movement in both circumstances. Doctors could also do imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis.