What are the First Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a painful and restrictive condition that affects the shoulder joint’s range of motion. It typically develops gradually and progresses through stages, with distinct early symptoms. Here’s a detailed look at the initial signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder:

  • Pain in the Shoulder: The first and most common symptom of frozen shoulder is pain in the affected shoulder. This pain tends to be deep within the joint and can worsen at night, making it difficult to sleep on the affected side. The pain is often described as a dull, aching discomfort.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Another early sign is a noticeable reduction in the shoulder’s range of motion. You may find it challenging to perform everyday tasks that involve raising your arm, reaching behind your back, or even putting on a jacket. This limitation can be subtle at first but progressively worsens.
  • Stiffness: The shoulder starts to feel increasingly stiff, and you may experience difficulty in moving it freely. As the condition progresses, this stiffness becomes more pronounced, and simple movements like combing your hair or reaching for objects on high shelves can become painful and problematic.
  • Difficulty with Daily Activities: Simple activities like reaching for objects, getting dressed, or washing your hair can become difficult and painful due to the restricted range of motion and stiffness. The pain and limited mobility can significantly impact your quality of life.
  • Gradual Onset: The onset of frozen shoulder is typically gradual, with symptoms worsening over time. It may take several months for these early signs to become more noticeable and interfere with your daily life.
  • Pain at Rest: Pain isn’t limited to movement. In the early stages of frozen shoulder, you might experience pain even when the shoulder is at rest. This can make resting and finding a comfortable sleeping position challenging.
  • Painful Activities: Certain activities, especially those that involve overhead movements or reaching behind your back, can trigger sharp and intense pain in the shoulder. This can make tasks like putting on a seatbelt or reaching for something in the back seat of a car particularly painful.

It’s important to note that the exact cause of frozen shoulder is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve inflammation and the thickening and tightening of the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint. Certain factors, such as age, diabetes, and previous shoulder injuries, can increase the risk of developing this condition.

If you notice these early symptoms of frozen shoulder, it’s advisable to seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and intervention, which may include physical therapy and pain management, can help prevent the condition from progressing to its more severe and debilitating stages. While the recovery process for frozen shoulder can be slow, with appropriate treatment, most individuals can regain their shoulder’s range of motion and alleviate the associated pain and discomfort over time.