Frozen Shoulder Explained

Ben Leyson

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Rather than give you a technical explanation that you will find plastered all over the internet I have chosen to keep things simple. Frozen Shoulder occurs when your shoulder joint becomes chronically angry. So much so that you cant move your shoulder without agonising pain. Its basically like Chinese New Year in your shoulder. If we were to take a photo of the inside it would be red.

Did you know that often frozen shoulder is often misdiagnosed? Keep reading to learn more about your shoulder and see if you really have frozen shoulder.

Your shoulder is one of the most amazing structures in your body. First of all your shoulder blade sits along your ribs, its actually called a floating bone. This is because there is nothing holding it in place except for muscles! Every other joint in the body has some form of a ligament blue tacking things in place. Your shoulder blade forms to make a socket that the ball of your arm sits in. When you look at this you will see that 2/3 of the ball sits outside of the socket. This is a blessing for mobility but a curse for injuries as we age.   

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What about the Rotator Cuff or Bursa?

Your shoulder blade has a set of muscles with tendons that wrap around the ball of the arm (that sits in the socket). These tendons are called the rotator cuff, their job is to hold the shoulder in place. You also have ligaments around the ball that stops dislocations. If you’ve had a shoulder injury, you will probably have heard of the bursa or bursitis. This is a fluid filled sack that acts as a barrier between tendons and bones to stop unnecessary friction. Because it holds fluid any inflammation that occurs in the shoulder will often be drawn into this sack causing problems. In my experience the bursa is always the victim not the cause of your problem. 

The Most Common Injury I see Confused With Frozen Shoulder.

The most common injury is to the rotator cuff tendons in your shoulder. Typically this will start when you pass 40 years old. When you are 20 the tendons in your shoulder are like like a brand new rope. By the time you are 40 the rope begins to wear out thin and lose strength and integrity. If this is the case and you keep using the worn out rope as if it was brand new what could happen? That’s right it snaps or gets injured. When this occurs often your shoulder can stiffen up and create what appears like frozen shoulder. Even in some cases it just be the tight muscles causing the issue. My advice is to see an expert physio to ensure the diagnosis is correct.

About the Author

Ben Leyson is the only Integrative Physiotherapist on the Mid North Coast. He is trained in Ridgway Method and personally helped over 300 people avoid unnecessary shoulder surgery