What is Frozen Shoulder?
posted by Mitchell Larsen, MD | August 20, 2018
Frozen shoulder, sometimes referred to as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that affects the shoulder joint. The shoulder is a complex system of bones, ligaments, joints and muscles. The tissue that surrounds this system is called the shoulder capsule. When the shoulder capsule thickens and tightens, it can restrict movement of the shoulder.
The causes of frozen shoulder aren’t clear because it occurs in some people but not others. Doctors do know that there are certain risk factors, for example:
Frozen shoulder is also common after another injury that leaves the shoulder immobile, such as a mastectomy or arm injury.
The symptoms of adhesive capsulitis depend on what stage it’s in:
Frozen shoulder is often diagnosed from the symptoms alone. Imaging tests can ensure that the problem is frozen shoulder and not something more serious.
Frozen shoulder is often treated non-surgically at first. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can help relieve pain and swelling. Your orthopedist will also likely recommend physical therapy to help improve your range of motion, depending on which phase of the condition you’re in.
If symptoms don’t improve or become intense, there are other treatment options:
Contact an orthopedic specialist for further information.
“Frozen Shoulder.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/frozen-shoulder/symptoms-causes/syc-20372684
“Frozen Shoulder.” OrthoInfo. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/frozen-shoulder/
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.