Frozen shoulder

Introduction

Frozen shoulder is a painful condition that affects the movement of the shoulder. It can also be known as Adhesive Capsulitis and Shoulder Periarthritis.

The condition arises when the shoulder capsule (the flexible tissue) becomes inflamed and thickened and forms scar tissue. This can result in stiffness and pain.

Frozen shoulder can occur at any age but is most common in middle aged people, affecting twice as many women as men.

There are a number of things that make developing a frozen shoulder more likely:

  • Shoulder injury
  • Diabetes
  • Dupuytren’s contracture
  • Heart disease and stroke

Symptoms

  • Progressive shoulder pain and stiffness
  • Shoulder movement becomes limited
  • Difficulties performing everyday tasks such as getting dressed or cleaning your teeth.

Investigation

  • X-rays
  • MRI scans

Treatment will depend upon the stage of condition and the severity of the pain and stiffness.

A frozen shoulder may get better naturally, but recovery is slow and may take up to two years.

Nonsurgical Treatment

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Painkillers
  • Corticosteroid injection
  • Physiotherapy

Advanced frozen shoulders will not respond to physiotherapy alone.

Surgical Treatment

  • Keyhole surgery
  • Manipulation (under general anaesthetic)
  • Arthroscopic  Capsular release

If the condition is caught very early on then physiotherapy can be effective. Physiotherapy can be used to help mobilise the soft tissue and to help shapes the shoulder into a better position.

After surgery stretches are required to help improve the range of motion of the shoulder joint and to build strength.

Medication may also be required to reduce any pain.