Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is stiffness, pain, and
limited range of movement in your
shoulder. It may happen after an injury or overuse or from a disease such as diabetes or
a stroke. The tissues around
the joint stiffen, scar tissue forms, and shoulder movements become difficult
and painful. The condition usually comes on slowly, then goes away slowly over the course of a year or more.
Frozen shoulder can develop when you stop using the joint
normally because of pain, injury, or a chronic health condition, such as
diabetes or a stroke. Any shoulder problem can lead to frozen shoulder if you
do not work to keep full range of motion.
Frozen shoulder occurs:
Your doctor may suspect frozen shoulder if a
physical exam reveals limited shoulder movement. An X-ray may be done to see whether symptoms are from another condition such as arthritis or a broken bone.
Treatment for frozen shoulder usually starts with
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and
application of heat to the affected area, followed by gentle stretching. Ice
and medicines (including corticosteroid injections) may also be used to
reduce pain and swelling. And physical therapy can help increase your range of
motion. A frozen shoulder can take a year or more to get better. But if treatment is not helping, surgery is sometimes done to loosen some of the tight tissues around the shoulder. This surgery is often done with an arthroscope.
Gentle, progressive range-of-motion exercises, stretching, and
using your shoulder more may help prevent frozen shoulder after surgery or an injury. Experts don't know what causes some cases of frozen shoulder, and it may not be possible to prevent these. But be patient and follow your doctor's advice. Frozen shoulder nearly always gets better over time.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
provides information and education to raise the public's awareness of
musculoskeletal conditions, with an emphasis on preventive measures. The AAOS
website contains information on orthopedic conditions and treatments, injury
prevention, and wellness and exercise.
The American Physical Therapy Association is a national
organization representing nearly 70,000 physical therapists, physical therapist
assistants, and students. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical
therapist education, practice, and research. The APTA also provides information
and education to the public about physical therapy and how it is used to treat
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal
and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is a governmental institute that serves the public
and health professionals by providing information, locating other information
sources, and participating in a national federal database of health
information. NIAMS supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention
of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases and supports the training of
scientists to carry out this research.
The NIAMS website provides
health information referrals to the NIAMS Clearinghouse, which has information
packages about diseases.
Other Works Consulted
McMahon PJ, Kaplan LD (2006). Shoulder stiffness section of Sports medicine. In HB Skinner, ed., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Orthopedics, 4th ed, pp. 208–210. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Mercier LR (2008). Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) section of The shoulder. In Practical Orthopedics, 6th ed, pp. 66–67. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.
August 29, 2011
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
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