There are 4 major reasons a stiff shoulder develops:
- Rotator Cuff tear – ( this is a dynamic muscular issue that is not related to our current topic but definitely limits overhead motion).
- Adhesive capsulitis (AKA “frozen shoulder”) – insidious onset with the adherence of the capsule causing contracture of the shoulder that results in significant range of motion loss in multiple planes. It has long-term restrictions that can last up to 18 months. It normally has three phases of progression: freezing, frozen, and thawing.
- Post-operative – more specific stiffness than adhesive capsulitis. This can be a natural process of the surgery and other times it can be a complication. E.g. patient wearing a brace/sling for several days/weeks after
rotator cuff surgery.
- Post-injury – any injured tissue or inflammatory process that does not allow for a full range of motion.
A stiff shoulder pathology can worsen if ignored in a minimal state of ROM loss. Continuing to use a shoulder with sub-optimal motion during activity can lead to further devastating results and injury. Cited in numerous case studies, treatment to the minimally “frozen” shoulder could have prevented long-head biceps and rotator cuff damage in the shoulder.
Our expert Physical Therapists can help treat your shoulder stiffness at our Lake Forest Physical Therapy, Foothill Ranch Physical Therapy, or Mission Viejo Physical Therapy locations.