DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’ve had pain in my right shoulder for a few weeks that has been getting worse rather than better, even though I’m letting it rest. I have read the term “frozen shoulder” – could that be what I have? What causes it? Should I see my doctor, or will it eventually heal on its own?
ANSWER: It is possible that you are experiencing a condition known as frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis). Although recovery can take several months to a year or more, a variety of treatments may help improve your shoulder joint’s range of motion. Make an appointment to see your doctor. He or she will be able to discuss your symptoms and help determine the cause.
Your shoulder joint is made up of bones, ligaments and tendons. Surrounding the joint is strong connective tissue called the shoulder capsule. Normally, the capsule and joint are lubricated by synovial fluid. Frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint. Stiff tissue bands (adhesions) may develop, and there may be less synovial fluid in the joint. Usually, just one shoulder is affected.