When the joint between the shoulder blade, or scapula, and humerus, or upper bone of the arm, becomes stiffened or less supple, it causes a condition known as frozen shoulder. When this occurs in athletes, it’s often due to trauma to the shoulder joint and is also called post-traumatic stiff shoulder. Sports that increase the risk of frozen shoulder include those that may cause you to fall, such as ice skating. The condition can also develop after a period of not using the shoulder joint at all. It’s most common among older athletes.
Symptoms commonly include aching, pain and loss of mobility in the affected shoulder. The shoulder often will heal itself without surgical intervention. However, if you think you may have frozen shoulder, consult a sports medicine specialist. He or she will examine your shoulder to establish the cause of your stiffness, and determine the extent of the damage to the joint.
You may be directed to perform rehabilitation and strengthening muscles for your shoulder, avoiding overstretching the joint. If these exercises prove ineffective, oral or injected steroids might be considered to help the shoulder heal. And if that doesn’t heal the shoulder, surgery may be necessary to release the stiffened shoulder capsule.
The prognosis for frozen shoulder is generally positive; most people’s shoulders return to normal without surgery, although it may take one to three years to heal.