Why Do Diabetic Patients Get Frozen Shoulder

Glucose’s attraction to joint collagen can cause adhesive capsulitis

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that results from abnormally high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Having excessively high glucose levels can lead to a diverse array of problems, including loss of weight, urinating frequently, exhaustion, being particularly thirsty, blurred vision, and excessive hunger. Some diabetic individuals might also experience a condition that is known commonly as “frozen shoulder,” as well. Frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis.


It is important to understand exactly what frozen shoulder is. Frozen shoulder is characterized by stiffness and pain in the joints of the shoulder. This causes the shoulders to not be able to move properly. The stiffness and pain tends to get progressively worse with time.


Frozen shoulder seems to start very simply. Individuals might notice that their shoulder is in slight pain. To avoid intensifying the pain, they might abstain from using their shoulder a lot. With this immobility, stiffness could occur, making it much harder to use the shoulder. The joint lining also could become extremely stiff, which can render the shoulder immobile. Due to stiffness and extreme pain, the shoulder in many cases becomes unable to most past a specific point.

Diabetes and Frozen Shoulder

Diabetics are at significantly higher risk of developing frozen shoulder, compared with non-diabetics. This is believed to be related to collagen. Collagen is part of the foundation of both tendons and ligaments. It is a component that binds the bones of a joint together tightly and securely. Glucose molecules connect to collagen. With diabetics, the connection of the sugar molecules to collagen can cause unusual collagen deposits to appear in the shoulder’s tendons and cartilage. This accumulation can result in severe stiffness of the shoulder.

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According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 20 percent of diabetics experience frozen shoulder. Only about five percent of non-diabetics experience this condition.

Others at Risk

Others at higher risk for developing frozen shoulder include females and those between 40 and 60 years old. People who experience shoulder injuries are also at higher risk for frozen shoulder, as are those who have had either bursitis or tendinitis.