Frozen shoulder, medically known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint, leading to a significant reduction in mobility. This condition can affect anyone, but it mostly affects women between the ages of 40 and 60.   Over the years of being a massage therapist I have noticed a direct relationship between Frozen Shoulder and the onset of Menopause, suggesting a potential link between the two conditions.

The exact cause of Frozen Shoulder from menopause is still unknown but let's talk about what it is and potential treatment options for this particular niche of Frozen Shoulder.  

Symptoms and Progression of Frozen Shoulder

The symptoms of Frozen Shoulder typically develop gradually, worsening over time before eventually beginning to improve.

The primary symptoms of frozen shoulder include:

  1. Pain: The pain is usually dull or aching, located over the outer shoulder area and sometimes the upper arm. This pain tends to worsen in the early stages of the condition and when the arm is moved. As the disease progresses, the pain can become more intense, often described as a dull, aching sensation.
  2. Stiffness: Initially, the stiffness may not be severe, but it worsens over time, particularly in the early phases of the condition. This stiffness can severely restrict the range of motion in the shoulder.
  3. Limited Motion: The range of motion in the shoulder decreases significantly due to the stiffness and pain. Over time, this can make it hard to do simple movements like reaching up or behind you.


The development of frozen shoulder can occur spontaneously without any known cause or follow minor trauma. The condition typically progresses through three stages:

  • Freezing Stage: The shoulder becomes increasingly painful and loses range of motion. This stage lasts approximately 6 weeks to 9 months.
  • Frozen Stage: Pain may decrease, but stiffness remains, making daily activities challenging. This period can last 4 to 6 months overall.
  • Thawing Stage: Gradual improvement in mobility returns, which could take between 6 months to 2 years.

The Menopause Connection

To Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's menstrual cycles. It typically occurs in women in their late 40s to early 50s, but can also happen earlier or later. During menopause, the ovaries stop releasing eggs and produce lower levels of estrogen and progesterone, the hormones responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle.

Estrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density and joint health. As estrogen levels decline during menopause, women are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones. This decrease in estrogen can also lead to joint stiffness and pain, as well as an increased risk of developing conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Joint stiffness is a common symptom reported by more than 50% of women going through menopause. This stiffness can affect various joints in the body, but is often associated with frozen shoulder, a condition characterized by pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. Women experiencing joint stiffness during menopause may also notice decreased range of motion, swelling, and tenderness in the affected joints.

It is important for women going through menopause to prioritize their bone and joint health by staying active, maintaining a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and discussing any concerns with their healthcare provider. Physical therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes can help manage joint stiffness and pain during this transitional phase of life.

Indirect effects such as poor sleep, depression, and fatigue, which are common during menopause, might exacerbate or trigger joint issues.

Risk Factors and Triggers

After menopause, women are more likely to develop frozen shoulder. This is because hormonal changes can reduce flexibility and strength in the shoulder joint. Diabetes and thyroid disorders can increase the risk of frozen shoulder by affecting the body's ability to heal and repair tissues.

Past shoulder injuries, such as a torn Rotator cuff or dislocation, can increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder. This is because scar tissue and inflammation from previous injuries can restrict movement in the joint.

Poor posture can also play a significant role in the development of frozen shoulder, as slouching or hunching can put strain on the muscles and tendons in the shoulder, leading to stiffness and limited range of motion. Additionally, genetic predisposition may make some individuals more susceptible to developing frozen shoulder, as certain genetic factors can affect the structure and function of the shoulder joint.

Overall, a combination of these factors can increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder, making it important for individuals to maintain good posture, manage chronic health conditions, and seek treatment for any previous shoulder injuries to help prevent the development of this painful and debilitating condition.

Interestingly, once a person experiences frozen shoulder in one arm, it is unlikely to recur in the same shoulder but may appear in the other.

Treatment and Management Strategies

Treatment for frozen shoulder varies based on its stage and includes:

  • Calcitonin Therapy: Calcitonin is a thyroid hormone that can reduce tissue buildup in the joints, thus managing symptoms.
  • Massage Therapy: Massage Therapy treatments are essential for restoring and maintaining shoulder mobility. The method of a massage frozen shoulder treatment focuses on stretching and releasing tight spots and trigger points. These methods are tailored to the pain and movement levels experienced during different stages of frozen shoulder.
  • Dietary Adjustments: A nutritious diet, potentially including anti-inflammatory options like the ketogenic diet, may benefit individuals with frozen shoulder.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Replacing estrogen and progesterone may alleviate joint issues linked to menopause.
  • Medications and Injections: Steroid injections and nerve blocks can provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation.
  • Surgical Options: As a last resort, surgery for frozen shoulder might be considered to release the tight joint capsule, though it is typically only moderately successful.

Personal Experiences and Case Studies

Personal accounts and expert opinions highlight the severe impact of frozen shoulder on daily life. Simple tasks like dressing or reaching overhead become agonizing. Treatment typically starts conservatively with physiotherapy and may advance to injections or surgery if symptoms persist.

Conclusion: Effective Massage Therapy for Frozen Shoulder During Menopause

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, significantly impacts quality of life, particularly for middle-aged women during menopause. The link between decreased estrogen levels and increased joint issues suggests that hormonal changes contribute to this condition. Symptoms like joint stiffness and pain are exacerbated by menopause-related challenges such as poor sleep and mood changes.

Effective management of frozen shoulder involves a holistic approach, with massage therapy playing a key role. By targeting tight spots and trigger points, massage therapy restores mobility and alleviates pain, especially when tailored to the specific stages of frozen shoulder.

For those in New York City struggling with this condition, Elite Healers Sports Massage offers expert care. My therapists & I specialize in treating frozen shoulder, using techniques that stretch, release tension, and improve shoulder function.

Early intervention with targeted massage therapy can lead to significant improvements in mobility and pain reduction. This not only enhances daily life but also helps maintain independence and activity levels without discomfort.

In conclusion, for those facing the challenges of frozen shoulder during menopause, massage therapy is an essential treatment. At Elite Healers Sports Massage, we are committed to providing relief and restoring mobility, offering a path to recovery for those affected by this debilitating condition. So if you need massage therapy to thaw out your frozen shoulder, then schedule now