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Frozen Shoulder

By David Mendosa

Posted On: April 7, 2004
Last Update: June 29, 2007

As many as 1 in 5 people with diabetes get frozen shoulders. I don’t know if that is enough for us to consider it a complication of diabetes or not, but I do know that both of my shoulders have frozen since a doctor diagnosed my diabetes 10 years ago.

It can last for five years.

Frozen shoulder is something of a misnomer. Your shoulder doesn’t actually freeze. Instead you can’t move it like you could before. Frozen shoulder is a joint problem, technically called adhesive capsulitis.

One Saturday night a couple of weeks ago I woke up and felt considerable pain when I reached above my head or across my body, classic initial symptoms of frozen shoulder. It was the same as what I felt in 1994, except then I went to my doctor. The doctor that time referred me to a physical therapist, and within six months I was back to normal.

I was lucky. With normal treatment the condition can last for up to five years, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Remembering how long that treatment took and how painful it was, I chose a different course this time. On the Monday following the attack I had the first of four sessions with my chiropractor, Peter Thibodeau, DC.

Dr. Thibodeau told me how good it was that I came to him as soon as I could before scar tissue could form. Consequently, after just one week I was back to normal with full range of motion and no pain. 


Dr. Gordon Cameron is a specialist in joint and muscle pain based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He writes me that he now offers a free ebook called How To Live With a Frozen Shoulder. The site includes a substantial chapter on the effect that diabetes has on the shoulder. The URL is

This article originally appeared at on April 7, 2004.

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