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Frozen Shoulder (cont.)

Frozen Shoulder Symptoms

A frozen shoulder may or may not be associated with pain in the shoulder. Initial pain and tenderness may resolve and leave the shoulder with painless but limited range of motion. The scarring of the shoulder joint capsule may limit the ability to move the shoulder fully in all directions. The limitation is usually most apparent when attempting to move the elbow completely away from the body.

When to Seek Medical Care

Anyone with limited motion of the shoulder joint should seek the medical attention of a health-care professional.

Exams and Tests

In evaluating a frozen shoulder, the doctor will consider the history of events that may have injured the shoulder joint. Any activity that could strain or injure the shoulder joint can lead to a frozen shoulder, including lifting a heavy object overhead, picking up luggage off of a luggage rack, or using shears to clip a hedge. A frozen shoulder is suggested during examination when the range of motion in the shoulder joint is significantly limited, with either the patient or the examiner attempting the movement. Underlying diseases involving the shoulder can be diagnosed by the medical history along with the physical examination, blood testing, and X-ray examination of the shoulder. If necessary, the diagnosis can be confirmed when an X-ray contrast dye is injected into the shoulder joint to demonstrate the characteristic shrunken shoulder capsule of a frozen shoulder. This X-ray test is called arthrography. The tissues of the shoulder can also be evaluated with an MRI scan.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2015

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