Much like the name implies, a frozen shoulder is a condition that inhibits movement of the shoulder and causes serious mobility restriction. Often referred to in the medical community as adhesive capsulitis, a shoulder that is “frozen” is typically caused by an injury that then leads to pain and a lack of use.

Generally people between the ages of 40 and 70 are more prone to developing a frozen shoulder. Also, those who have been in a car accident, suffer from diabetes, and have heart disease are more susceptible to developing this medical problem.

Adhesive Capsulitis Symptoms

Stiffness is the most common sign of a shoulder that is frozen. A patient may exhibit tightness and an inability to carry out even the simplest movements. Stiffness, pain and discomfort are more prominent at night after use and aggravation of the shoulder during the day. Another primary sign that the patient has a frozen shoulder is the ability to raise the arm, even slightly, without pain or stiffness.

Adhesive Capsulitis Diagnosis

While a doctor may suspect a frozen shoulder through physical examination it can be difficult to diagnose through the use of x-rays or scans. An x-ray will not reveal that the shoulder is frozen, but having the patient perform movements or exercises may reveal immediately that there is a problem.

Treatment Options for a Shoulder that is Frozen

The goal of treatment for adhesive capsulitis is to restore joint movement and mobility, while decreasing shoulder pain. Treatment may begin conservatively and increase when little to no relief is provided. Treatment typically begins with the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, the therapeutic heat application and gentle stretching exercises to increase lubrication in the shoulder.

If the symptoms do not subside, physical therapy may be prescribed, as well as at-home exercises. When these measures provide no relief, steroid injections directly into the glenohumeral joint may be ordered.

When the condition is severe and none of the conservative treatments seem to work, an orthopedic surgeon may require arthroscopy. This procedure consist of small incisions and the insertion of a tiny camera and tools to see and cut the remaining adhesions that may be causing pain and immobility. This type of procedure can be highly effective in those who have suffered from frozen shoulder for long periods of time and are in a lot of pain as a result.

Your orthopedic specialist can assist you in coming up with the best-qualified treatment plan for your condition. The goal is mobility and an improved quality of life for you and your shoulder.