Menopause and frozen shoulder

The Menopause and Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is a common shoulder condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. The condition mainly affects women over the age of 40, many of whom are experiencing menopause.

Although there is still no definite cause of frozen shoulder, strong links have been drawn with other health conditions. For example, diabetes can increase your risk twofold.

A team of orthopaedics researchers recently explored whether HRT played a role in managing painful shoulder conditions, including frozen shoulder. Read on to discover more about what the latest research revealed.

Link between frozen shoulder and HRT

Frozen shoulder occurs when the ligaments of the shoulder joint become swollen and stiff. There is already a well-established link with diabetes, thought to be because of high blood sugars and impaired circulation, causing tendons and ligaments to stiffen up. But the latest research suggests there could be a link with hormonal fluctuations.

A study in North America looked at the medical records of 2,000 women aged between 45 and 60. It found that 4% of women who had received HRT were diagnosed with frozen shoulder, compared with 8% of women who had not received HRT. However, further research is needed due to the small sample sizes.

Oestrogen contributes to the stimulation of bone growth, reduced inflammation as well as strengthening connective tissue. Women going through menopause experience a significant drop in oestrogen, causing most menopausal symptoms. It is believed that the higher levels of oestrogen in women receiving HRT could explain the lower likelihood of frozen shoulder.

Treating frozen shoulder

A frozen shoulder can improve, slowly, without treatment. Normally things improve within a year although this can take at least 24 months. Treatment is usually required to help minimise the shoulder pain and to free up movement in the shoulder joint.

Treatments for frozen shoulder can include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections
  • Shoulder manipulation
  • Joint distension

Surgery, another option, will only be discussed after these other treatments have been unsuccessful. This would normally involve keyhole surgery to remove the scar tissue and, occasionally, part of the inflamed capsule from within the shoulder joint (arthroscopic capsular release). This would be followed by a period of physical therapy for the best possible results.

To learn more about frozen shoulder, get a confirmed diagnosis and discuss suitable treatment options, please get in touch to arrange a consultation with the London Shoulder Specialists.