Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Be patient, wait for frozen shoulder to 'thaw'

  • Print

Q: I have been struggling with a sore shoulder for three months. At first, I just had pain when I lifted my arm up to reach for something but now, I can only lift my arm halfway up. My neighbour had something like this before and she was diagnosed with a frozen shoulder. Does this sound like frozen shoulder?


A: Sometimes the event that causes a shoulder injury is an obvious one. You can remember spiking too many volleyballs, or lifting a heavy object or maybe even falling on ice. Then there are times when you struggle to remember what you could have possibly done to get your shoulder so sore and stiff. You may wonder if your shoulder symptoms are due to early arthritis. Well, there is a shoulder condition called frozen shoulder that can occur without any trauma or known cause.

Older Adults More Susceptible

Frozen shoulder occurs when the shoulder capsule becomes tight. The capsule is like an envelope around the shoulder joint. A tight joint limits how much you can move the shoulder. The exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown. Frozen shoulder is not a condition seen in young adults or children. Women are more affected than men. The condition is generally seen over age 40 and is even more common in the fifth, sixth and seventh decades of life. It usually occurs in one shoulder at a time. Some individuals may have a rotator cuff tendinitis in the shoulder preceding the frozen shoulder. It can also occur after trauma in the shoulder or with certain diseases such as diabetes.


Symptoms and Signs

The most discouraging factor with frozen shoulder is the duration of symptoms. It does not get better quickly and symptoms can last for years. Patients should be prepared for symptoms to last at least a year. The first few months are the most painful. There is often night pain. Pain in the shoulder will lessen over time. Motion in the shoulder becomes limited and interferes with daily activities. The amount of motion that is lost varies from patient to patient although a loss of 30-60 per cent of motion is typical. Your physician will likely find your muscle strength is well preserved. There are some conditions that can look like frozen shoulder so you should make sure you have the right diagnosis. The pain could be coming from a different part of the body but is being felt in the shoulder.


Treatment Choices

Unfortunately, there is no magic therapy to relieve frozen shoulder. Analgesics (pain-relieving medications) can be used for pain. Range of motion exercises are used to help regain more motion. Aggressive therapies such as forcing the shoulder to move or surgery are not recommended. The natural history of frozen shoulder has shown that it will get better over time regardless of treatment. Only five to 10 per cent of patients are left with significant pain and loss of motion years later. If frozen shoulder is your diagnosis, be patient, it will get better. Educate yourself about what you can and cannot do to heal your shoulder.


Readers can ask Dr. Kennedy questions, but due to the volume of requests, replies are not guaranteed. Email:

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 2, 2010 D1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


I Dream of Diesel at Rachel Brown Theatre scene preview

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(  Standup photo)-    A butterfly looks for nector on a lily Tuesday afternoon in Wolseley-JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- June 22, 2010
  • Down the Hatch- A pelican swallows a fresh fish that it caught on the Red River near Lockport, Manitoba. Wednesday morning- May 01, 2013   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

About Dr. Maureen Kennedy

Born and raised in The Pas, Dr. Kennedy graduated from the University of Winnipeg Collegiate, earned a BSc and BA from the University of Winnipeg and an MD from the University of Manitoba in 1994. After certifying in family medicine at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Kennedy was awarded a two-year fellowship in primary care sport medicine at the University of Calgary Sport Medicine Centre. She completed this fellowship along with a MSc in Kinesiology at the University of Calgary. Her research focus was exercise counselling by family physicians. Dr. Kennedy further explored the use of exercise in medicine with PhD projects examining aerobic exercise in individuals scheduled for total hip or knee replacement surgery. She holds a diploma in sport medicine from the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine and has served on numerous provincial and national committees for organizations such as the Alberta Medical Association, Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine, College of Family Physicians of Canada and Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

For the past 11 years, Dr. Kennedy has practised as a consultant in primary care sport medicine.

Dr. Kennedy's practice focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of injuries, muscle, bone and joint problems, orthopedic triage, weight management, osteoarthritis and dance medicine. She has served as the head physician for Alberta Ballet for the last nine years and has worked with the national women's hockey team along with many elite and amateur athletes in various sports. She points out that sport medicine physicians provide a tremendous service to the general public and the health-care system by shortening orthopedic waiting lists and providing non-surgical treatment options. "It's great to be back home in Manitoba and Winnipeg is a fantastic city," she adds. Readers can expect coverage on a wide range of fitness and health topics, including insider's tips on how to navigate the health-care system.


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google