Don’t Ignore a Stiff and Painful Shoulder

Alexander M. Aboka, MD, MPH

Frozen shoulder is common condition that affects the shoulder, but is poorly understood, often misdiagnosed and routinely treated ineffectively.   It involves a gradual stiffening of the shoulder joint, with associated pain and significant limitations in range of motion affecting the ability to perform activities of daily living.  More often than not a minor injury or overuse event will initiate the scarring of the soft tissue lining of the joint.

This condition most commonly affects middle aged individuals and is more prevalent in perimenopausal women, and in diabetics.  Patients often ignore the symptoms as the initial discomfort may subside, but the stiffness progresses to a point where it impairs their normal activities of daily living including grooming, dressing, overhead work and leisurely activities like golfing, fishing or gardening.

Disabling symptoms can often persist for over 18 months before slow improvement, but early diagnosis and treatment can lead to quicker resolution and return to normal function.

Early evaluation by a shoulder surgeon is instrumental to making the correct diagnosis, and initiating the appropriate treatment protocol including a combination of customized physical therapy, oral medications and injectable steroid regimen.  The conservative approach is generally successful in treating the condition within a few months, but there are instances where surgery is necessary.  Modern arthroscopic techniques have revolutionized our ability to treat this condition by performing a release of the scarred lining of the joint, freeing up the shoulder. This can lead to dramatic improvements in motion and pain with only a brief recovery period after this minimally invasive outpatient surgery.

If you suspect the onset of a frozen shoulder it is important to obtain a prompt evaluation by an orthopaedic surgeon with specialty training in shoulder arthroscopy, in order to avoid delays in diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Free Shoulder Pain Seminar in Suffolk
Interested in learning more about treatment options for shoulder pain? Register to attend Dr. Aboka’s free community seminar on shoulder injury in Suffolk, Virginia November 8, 2013. Learn more at!

Alexander M. Aboka, MD, MPH, of Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists is a fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, arthroscopy, and shoulder and knee reconstructive surgery. He completed an orthopaedic sports medicine fellowship at the Cincinnati Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has provided sports medicine coverage at a variety of levels with high profile teams, including the University of New Mexico Lobos and the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Aboka, please contact us online or call our office directly at 757.215.3789.

+ Read more of Dr. Aboka’s blogs on sports medicine and orthopaedic health topics!

One thought on “Don’t Ignore a Stiff and Painful Shoulder

  1. Pingback: Don’t Ignore a Stiff and Painful Shoulder | Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists

Speak Your Mind