Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is stiffness, pain, and
limited range of movement in your
shoulder that may follow an injury. The tissues around
the joint stiffen, scar tissue forms, and shoulder movements become difficult
and painful. The condition usually comes on slowly, then goes away slowly over the course of several months or longer.
What causes frozen shoulder?
Frozen shoulder can develop when you stop using the joint normally
because of pain, injury, or a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or
arthritis. Any shoulder problem can lead to frozen shoulder if you do not work
to keep full range of motion.
More often in women (especially in
postmenopausal women) than in men.
Most often in people with chronic
How is frozen shoulder diagnosed?
Your doctor may suspect frozen shoulder if a
physical exam reveals limited shoulder movement. An X-ray may be done to see whether symptoms are from another condition such as arthritis or a broken bone. An arthrogram, which is an X-ray
image of your joint taken after a contrast material (such as a dye or air) is
injected into it, can help confirm the diagnosis.
How is it treated?
Treatment for frozen shoulder usually starts with
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and
application of heat to the affected area, followed by gentle stretching. Ice
and medicines (including corticosteroid injections) may also be used to
reduce pain and swelling. And physical therapy can help increase your range of
motion. A frozen shoulder can take many months to get better. But if treatment is not helping, surgery is sometimes done to cut some of the tight tissues around the shoulder. This surgery is often done with an arthroscope.
Can frozen shoulder be prevented?
Gentle, progressive range-of-motion exercises, stretching, and
using your shoulder more may help prevent frozen shoulder.
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
August 29, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 29, 2011
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