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Signs & Symptoms Orthopedics

Frozen Shoulder
Signs and Symptoms

Patients with frozen shoulder usually have increasing pain as their shoulder loses mobility. Quick shoulder motions often exacerbate the pain. Worsening stiffness can even make it difficult for other people, such as a doctor performing an exam, to move the shoulder. Frozen shoulder has been divided into three stages (note that the condition typically improves as it moves through the stages):

1) Freezing stage: There is a gradual increase in pain, sometimes brought on by an apparently minor injury. As the pain worsens, the shoulder loses range of motion.

2) Frozen stage: The pain improves, but the shoulder remains stiff.

3) Thawing stage: Shoulder mobility slowly returns to normal.

The freezing stage can last from one to nine months; the frozen stage, four to nine months; and the thawing stage, five months to two years.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

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