Frozen shoulder is a tightening of the tissue around the shoulder joint. It results in a loss of movement and pain at the shoulder joint.
In frozen shoulder:
This condition may get worse over time. After a period of time, the shoulder may also improve spontaneously. This improvement is called thawing.
Frozen shoulder is caused by inflammation and scarring of the soft tissues of the shoulder. This includes the capsule that surrounds the joint.
The cause of the tightening is usually not known.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Frozen shoulder is more likely to occur in women between the ages of 40-65 years old.
Factors that increase your risk for frozen shoulder include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The range of motion in your shoulder will be tested.
Images may be taken of your shoulder. This can be done with:
Treatment focuses on:
Closed manipulation surgery is a forceful movement of the arm at the shoulder joint. It is done to loosen the stiffness. The surgery is performed under anesthesia. The procedure is followed by intensive physical therapy.
In arthroscopic surgery, a small incision is made in the shoulder. Special small instruments are inserted through the incision. The tightened tissues are released. The shoulder is manipulated. Physical therapy must be done after this procedure.
Capsular distension is often done as a combination of an arthrogram and corticosteroid injection. The doctor expands the shoulder joint by injecting salt water under pressure. The fluid may contain cortisone and may also contain a dye that allows the shape and character of the shoulder joint to be seen.
Frozen shoulder may recur. To help prevent frozen shoulder:
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Adhesive capsulitis of shoulder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113935/Adhesive-capsulitis-of-shoulder. Updated December 22, 2015. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Ewald A. Adhesive capsulitis: a review. Am Fam Physician. 2011 Feb 15;83(4):417-422.
Frozen Shoulder. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00071. Updated January 2011. Accessed September 16, 2015.
Garcilazo C, Cavallasca JA, et al. Shoulder manifestations of diabetes mellitus. Curr Diabetes Rev. 2010 Sep;6(5):334-340.
Neviaser AS, Hannafin JA. Adhesive capsulitis: a review of current treatment. Am J Sports Med. 2010 Nov;38(11):2346-2356.
Struyf F and Meeus M. Current evidence on physical therapy in patients with adhesive capsulitis: What are we missing? Clinical Rheumatology. 2014;33(5):593-600.
Woodward TW, Best TM. The painful shoulder part I: clinical evaluation. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(10):3079-3088.
Woodward TW, Best TM. The painful shoulder part II: acute and chronic disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(11):3291-3300.
5/7/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113935/Adhesive-capsulitis-of-shoulder: Kelley MJ, Shaffer MA, et al. Shoulder pain and mobility deficits: adhesive capsulitis. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2013 May;43(5):A1-31.
11/6/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113935/Adhesive-capsulitis-of-shoulder: Page MJ, Green S, et al. Electrotherapy modalities for adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;10:CD011324.
1/21/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113935/Adhesive-capsulitis-of-shoulder: Chen CY, Hu CC, et al. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy improves short-term functional outcomes of shoulder adhesive capsulitis. J Shoulder Elbow Surgery. 2014 Dec;23(12):1843-1851.
Last reviewed September 2018 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 1/21/2015