Adhesive Capsulitis (frozen shoulder)

Adhesive Capsulitis (frozen shoulder)

What is frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder is stiffness and pain in the shoulder that occurs when the capsule surrounding the shoulder forms adhesions.


How does it occur?

A frozen shoulder can occur after injury or without known cause. When it occurs after injury it is frequently because pain prevents adequate shoulder movement for prolonged periods and adhesions occur. Women between 40 and 60 years old often develop frozen shoulder without known injury. It also occurs in males but with less frequency. The incidence is 2% in the general population but 10-35% in diabetics.


What are the symptoms?

The shoulder loses its normal ability to move in all directions but may be more restricted in certain planes of movement. You may not be able to lift your arm above your head or be able to scratch your back or wash your hair. Movement may be very painful.


How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine your shoulder and may take x-rays. In some cases they may do an arthrogram or an MRI. Primary diagnosis is by physical examination where limited active and passive movement is present and movement between the joint surfaces is decreased.


How is it treated?

Patients are typically referred to physical therapy for stretching and a supervised exercise program. Exercises are typically given for home as well.

The doctor may give you medication for inflammation or pain.

Steroid injections are done for some patients

Ice packs may help when the shoulder is painful

Heat may help prior to stretching

In cases that do not respond to therapy, a manipulation under anesthesia may be performed

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