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Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), also called a "stiff shoulder" is a condition that can cause a great deal of shoulder discomfort and a limitation of shoulder movement for the patient. In most cases, frozen shoulder results in a complete loss of function and motion of the shoulder. The pain and discomfort, as well the loss of shoulder movement, can become so severe that almost all normal and daily activities become difficult, if not impossible, to do.

Over time, because of the shoulder pain, the shoulder is moved less and less and the stiffness becomes worse. The loss of motion can result in other types of problems such as labral tears or impingment and rotator cuff problems.


The major symptoms of frozen shoulder are pain and loss of motion.



Physical therapy plays a role for most patients in the treatment of frozen shoulder. Regardless of the frozen shoulder phase, an orthopedic physical therapy program can be implemented and is very successful in restoring shoulder motion and reducing pain. In addition to therapy, anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections can be helpful in reducing the pain, swelling, and stiffness. This program usually results in gradual improvement, although it may take several months.


Some individuals will require surgery. In these cases, arthroscopic surgery is likely to be used to release tight areas and remove scar tissue so that mobility will be restored.

Information obtain from