by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Frozen shoulder is a problem with the tissue around the shoulder joint. It makes it hard to move the shoulder.
Frozen shoulder is caused by inflammation and scarring of the soft tissues around the shoulder joint. It is not known why this happens in some people. In other people, it may happen after trauma or surgery.
It is more common in people who are 40 to 60 years old. It is also more common in women. Things that may raise your risk are:
This problem may get worse over time before it gets better on its own. This is called thawing.
Symptoms may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done, paying close attention to your shoulder.
Treatment is aimed at easing pain and helping the shoulder move again. Options are:
Initial care may be:
People who do not benefit from initial care may need surgery. During surgery, the shoulder may be forced to moved to increase motion. A small incision may also be made to release the tight tissues.
This problem can happen when a person is not active and moving the shoulder. Healthy muscles may help prevent injury. This may be done through exercise.
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 website. Available at: https://www.dyname... . Updated June 22, 2018. Accessed September 23, 2019.
Frozen Shoulder. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated March 2018. Accessed September 23, 2019.
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11/6/2014 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Page MJ, Green S, et al. Electrotherapy modalities for adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;10:CD011324.
1/21/2015 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: 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 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Last Updated: 7/28/2020
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