Shoulder Stiffness
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Reviewed By:

Kent C Doan, MD

Kent C Doan, MD (Orthopedics)

Dr Doan Graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine and completed residency training in Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Colorado. He completed additional fellowship training in Orthopedic Sports Medicine at the prestigious Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, Colorado. He is a practicing Orthopedic Surgeon who specializes in complex and revision knee and shoulder surgery at the Kansas City Orthopedic Institute. He also holds an assistant professorship at the University of Kansas City.

Tomohiro Hamahata, MD

Tomohiro Hamahata, MD (Orthopedics)

Dr. Hamahata graduated from the Jikei University of Medical Science. After working at Asanokawa General Hospital and Kosei Chuo Hospital, he joined the Department of Orthopedics at Asakusa Hospital in April 2021, specializing in general orthopedics and joint replacement surgery.

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Content updated on Apr 4, 2024

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  • Stiffening of the shoulders

  • Both shoulders are stiff

  • Shoulder stiffness

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About the Symptom

This describes a limitation in the motion of the shoulder joint.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Altered mental status (delirium)

  • Fainting with loss of consciousness

  • Impossible to walk normally

  • Visual field defect

  • Muscle weakness in the limbs

  • Neck pain / stiffness

  • Difficulty breathing / breathlessness

  • Abnormal sensation (tingling, prickling)

  • Numbness / sensory disorder

  • Back pain

  • Photophobia

  • Disorder of consciousness

  • Slurred speech

Possible Causes

Generally, Shoulder stiffness can be related to:

  • Neuropathic Pain

    Neuropathic pain is usually caused by an injury, disease, or problem with the somatosensory nervous system. This is a common long-term pain condition that greatly affects a person's quality of life. The nerves in this system are what let us feel things like temperature, pressure, and pain. This type of pain often feels like a burning, tingling, sharp, or stabbing sensation. It can be triggered by light touch or cold, and can be constant or come and go. It can also get worse when resting or at night. Neuropathic pain is often caused by viral infections like post-herpetic neuralgia, cancer, blood vessel abnormalities, alcoholism, diabetes, nerve pressure, nerve damage from surgery or accidents, and neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis and shingles.

  • Cervical Spondylosis

    A condition in which the neck bones (cervical spine) become damaged due to wear and tear. Risk factors include long periods of desk work and driving, previous neck injuries, and aging.

  • Depression

    Depression is a mental illness that leads to low mood, reduced energy levels, and changes in sleep. This affects everyday activities like attending school and work. As the condition worsens, patients might have suicidal thoughts. Although stress and past trauma can cause depression, it can take time to identify and address causes, and genetic factors may also be at play.

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Peri-/Post-Menopausal Symptoms
  • Migraine
  • Tension Headache
  • Adjustment Disorder
  • Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament (OPLL)

  • Premature Ovarian Failure

Doctor's Diagnostic Questions

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom:

  • Are your shoulders stiff?

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Find Similar Symptoms

Similar symptoms or complaints

References

  • Itoi E, Arce G, Bain GI, Diercks RL, Guttmann D, Imhoff AB, Mazzocca AD, Sugaya H, Yoo YS. Shoulder Stiffness: Current Concepts and Concerns. Arthroscopy. 2016 Jul;32(7):1402-14. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2016.03.024. Epub 2016 May 12. PMID: 27180923.

    https://www.arthroscopyjournal.org/article/S0749-8063(16)00265-6/fulltext

Reviewed By:

Kent C Doan, MD

Kent C Doan, MD (Orthopedics)

Dr Doan Graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine and completed residency training in Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Colorado. He completed additional fellowship training in Orthopedic Sports Medicine at the prestigious Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, Colorado. He is a practicing Orthopedic Surgeon who specializes in complex and revision knee and shoulder surgery at the Kansas City Orthopedic Institute. He also holds an assistant professorship at the University of Kansas City.

Tomohiro Hamahata, MD

Tomohiro Hamahata, MD (Orthopedics)

Dr. Hamahata graduated from the Jikei University of Medical Science. After working at Asanokawa General Hospital and Kosei Chuo Hospital, he joined the Department of Orthopedics at Asakusa Hospital in April 2021, specializing in general orthopedics and joint replacement surgery.

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