FROZEN SHOULDER(Adhesive Capsulitis)
Patient Information Sheet
What is a Frozen Shoulder?
Movement of the shoulder is severely restricted in people with a “frozen shoulder”. This “frozen shoulder” or adhesive capsulitis, is usually caused by injury that leads to lack of use due to pain. Rheumatic disease progression and recent shoulder surgery can also cause frozen shoulder. Intermittent periods of use may cause inflammation. Adhesions (abnormal bands of tissue) grow between the joint surfaces, restricting motion.
There is also a lack of synovial fluid, which normally lubricates the gap between the arm bone and socket to help the shoulder joint move. It is this restricted space between the capsule and ball of the humerus that distinguishes adhesive capsulitis from a less complicated painful, stiff shoulder. People with diabetes, stroke, lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease, or who have been in an accident, are at a higher risk for frozen shoulder. The condition rarely appears in people under 40 years old.
What are the signs of a Frozen Shoulder and how is it diagnosed?
With a frozen shoulder, the joint becomes so tight and stiff that it is nearly impossible to carry out simple movements, for example, raising the arm. Most people complain that the stiffness and discomfort worsens at night. A frozen shoulder is suspected when a physical examination reveals limited shoulder movement.
How is a Frozen Shoulder treated?
Treatment involves restoring joint movement and reducing shoulder pain. The treatment will normally begin with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the application of heat, followed by gentle stretching exercises. Surgery is only necessary in some cases.