• Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a medical condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joints(1).
  • Studies have noted that CBD may have potential pain-relieving(2) and anti-inflammatory(3) effects. 
  • There are no specific studies on the effects of CBD oil in treating frozen shoulders. However, CBD’s purported benefits may help with the symptoms of frozen shoulder. 
  • Individuals should consult a doctor for an official diagnosis and proper treatment plan for managing adhesive capsulitis or any of its associated symptoms.

How Is CBD Effective for Frozen Shoulders?

Adhesive capsulitis, also called frozen shoulder, is a medical injury that causes shoulder joint pain and stiffness(4)

CBD (cannabidiol) is a chemical compound mainly derived from cannabis plants. 

Compared to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main psychoactive cannabinoid of cannabis, CBD is non-intoxicating or does not induce a euphoric high in users(5)

Studies have suggested that CBD may possess pain-relieving(6) and anti-inflammatory(7) effects.

Two significant symptoms of frozen shoulder are pain and inflammation(8). Hence, CBD may help manage symptoms linked to frozen shoulder.  

Moreover, CBD interacts with the body’s ECS (endocannabinoid system) to maintain balance or homeostasis(9).  

The ECS is composed of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2(10)

CB1 receptors regulate pain sensations, while CB2 stimulates the system’s anti-inflammatory response(11).

These two receptors may deliver anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects when they interact with CBD(12).

Presently, there are no studies specifically about the efficacy of CBD oil in treating frozen shoulder pain. However, CBD’s purported therapeutic benefits may open the opportunity for further research. 

It is highly suggested to consult a physician to diagnose and treat a frozen shoulder and its symptoms properly. 

How Can CBD Be Used to Relieve Pain From Frozen Shoulder?

Individuals may use CBD oil for frozen shoulder pain in various product formats like CBD topicals, CBD tinctures, edibles, and vapes. 

The effectiveness of these products depends on the user’s metabolism, weight, and diet. 

CBD Topicals

Topically applied CBD has been shown to help with inflammation and muscle tightness(13)

CBD topicals are directly applied to the affected area of the skin for localized relief from mild to chronic pain(14).

Topical cannabinoids do not enter the bloodstream. Instead, CB2 receptors on the skin will absorb the cannabinoids to reduce pain and inflammation(15).

CBD Vapes

Vaping or smoking CBD is considered the quickest way to get CBD into the body(16)

However, individuals who opt to smoke CBD should exercise caution as this method is linked to potential health risks such as pulmonary disease or lung irritation(17)

Another way for individuals to administer CBD oil is through CBD tinctures. Users apply the tinctures under their tongues (sublingually) using an oromucosal spray or dropper. 

Meanwhile, edibles like CBD gummies, capsules, and supplements allow the compound to pass through the gastrointestinal tract before it enters the bloodstream.

What Is A Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, sometimes called adhesive capsulitis, induces pain and stiffness along the shoulder joints. Over time, an individual may experience mobility issues on their shoulders.

This condition may primarily affect individuals between 40 and 60 years old and occurs in women more frequently than men. Moreover, people diagnosed with diabetes have a higher risk of developing frozen shoulder(18)

What Are the Phases of Frozen Shoulders?

The shoulder joints swell and become tight and stiff when a frozen shoulder occurs. The main signs of this condition are the individual’s inability to move their shoulder and severe pain. 

Frozen shoulder develops in three stages, namely(19):

  • Stage 1: Freezing Stage: In the “freezing” stage, individuals may begin to feel pain and mobility issues. As the pain worsens, the shoulder may also lose range of motion. Freezing usually lasts from six weeks to nine months. 
  • Stage 2: Frozen Stage: Painful symptoms may begin to improve during this phase. However, mobility issues are still lingering. Daily activities may be challenging during the four to six months of the “frozen” stage. 
  • Stage 3: Thawing Stage: The individual’s ability to move their shoulder may slowly improve during the “thawing” stage. Complete return to normal or close to the normal range of motion may take six months to two years. 

What Causes Frozen Shoulders?

It is not fully understood why frozen shoulders occur. However, some factors may put individuals more at risk for developing the condition(20).

Diabetes. Frozen shoulders may occur more often in people diagnosed with diabetes. Moreover, diabetic individuals suffering from frozen shoulder tend to experience longer periods of stiffness. 

Other diseases. Some medical issues linked to frozen shoulders include hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, cardiac disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Immobilization. Frozen shoulders may occur when a shoulder has been immobilized for a prolonged period due to injuries like fractures or surgery. Individuals who have undergone surgeries should begin to move their shoulders soon after the operation to prevent the occurrence of frozen shoulders. 

Symptoms of Frozen Shoulders

Frozen shoulders may usually cause a dull or aching pain around the upper arm or shoulder area. This pain is generally worse during the early stages of the disease or when individuals move their arms(21).

Treatment for Frozen Shoulders

Treating frozen shoulders usually involves pain management until the first stages pass. If the issues persist, therapy and surgery may be required to regain range of motion if it does not return on its own.

Some basic treatments include(22):

  • Hot and cold compresses: This method helps decrease swelling and pain.
  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications: These drugs include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol). 

For severe pain and swelling, doctors may prescribe steroid injections. Corticosteroids, such as cortisone, are injected directly into the shoulder joint for symptom relief.

  • Physical therapy: An individual with a frozen shoulder may do range of motion exercises like stretching, which a physical therapist teaches.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): A small battery-operated device that decreases pain by blocking nerve impulses. 

When these simple treatment methods fail to relieve pain and shoulder stiffness after a year, other medical procedures may be tested, such as(23):

  • Manipulation under anesthesia: This is a procedure wherein an individual will be put under anesthesia, and a doctor will force movement upon the person’s shoulder. This method causes the joint capsule to tear or stretch to reduce tightness and lead to an increase in mobility.
  • Shoulder arthroscopy: A doctor will cut through the tight parts of the joint capsule. A small pencil-sized instrument will be inserted through the tiny cuts around the shoulder. 

These two procedures are usually done simultaneously to achieve better results.

  1. Frozen shoulder
  2. Research shows pain-relieving effects of CBD
  3. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol
  4. Frozen shoulder
  5. Cannabidiol (CBD)
  6. Research shows pain-relieving effects of CBD
  7. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol
  8. Frozen shoulder
  9. The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator
  10. An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system
  11. Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules
  12. CBD oil: What is it and how does it work?
  13. Healing With CBD, page. 210.
  14. page 210 of Healing With CBD
  15. page 210 of Healing With CBD
  16. Best way to take CBD
  17. Can vaping damage your lungs? What we do (and don’t) know
  18. Frozen Shoulder
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Frozen Shoulder
  23. Ibid.
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