What is Frozen Shoulder?

September 1, 2015

FrozenShoulderWomen 40 years of age and older are most likely to develop “frozen shoulder,” technically called, adhesive capsulitis. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or after breast surgery, can be associated with frozen shoulder, but the condition can and often does occur in any individual, male or female, without any predisposing medical condition or trauma.

The shoulder joint is supported by ligaments, which connect the shoulder bones together and keep them properly aligned when in motion. Normally, the ligaments are flexible enough to permit full movement of the shoulder. When adhesive capsulitis occurs, the ligaments develop an inflammatory process, causing them to be infiltrated with scar tissue and form very restricting adhesions. This “freezing” of the joint severely decreases the normal range of motion and can cause a considerable amount of pain when motion is attempted.

The treatment of adhesive capsulitis depends on the stage and severity of the condition. Often in the early stages, oral anti-inflammatory medications are helpful to decrease the joint inflammatory reaction. In addition, physical therapy modalities including phonophoresis, ultrasound and hot and cold treatments can be helpful. A physical therapist who is familiar with this condition is also very helpful in performing active-assistive and passive gentle manipulative range of motion activities.

Surgery for adhesive capsulitis is limited to manipulation under anesthesia.At the Center for Orthopedics this is usually performed in the outpatient deperament. With the patient asleep, the physician attempts to manipulate the shoulder though a full range of motion to stretch tight the scar tissue surrounding the joint.

Sometimes, in severe cases, it is necessary to perform an arthroscopic exam or an open surgical procedure to release additional adhesions. Following manipulation, the patient must continue physical therapy and home exercises.

Most cases of frozen shoulder eventually resolve either spontaneously or following physical therapy or sometimes manipulation. This condition does not lead to arthritis or rotator cuff damage. Despite the fact that the shoulder is considerably disabled for a long period of time, within two years most cases of adhesive capsulitis have resolved.

Think you may be suffering from frozen shoulder?  Call The Center for Orthopedics for a Consultation: 440.329.2800


Entry Filed under: Conditions,Therapy and Injections,Trauma and Fractures. Posted in  Conditions ,Therapy and Injections ,Trauma and Fractures .

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