Jon Hyman MD Jon Hyman MD
  • Stanford University
  • Stanford University

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a painful shoulder condition that limits movement and causes stiffness in the joint. It is also called adhesive capsulitis and may progress to the state where you may find it very hard to move your arm. Frozen shoulder is more common in older adults between 40 and 60 years, and occurs more often in women than men.

The condition is caused by the inflammation of the shoulder capsule, the tissue that surrounds the joint. The shoulder capsule becomes thick, tight and forms stiff bands of tissue called adhesions. The risk of a frozen shoulder increases with immobilization for long periods of time following injury or surgeries, and may be associated with other disease conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism or cardiac diseases.

The condition can be diagnosed by the presenting symptoms and radiological diagnostic tools such as X-rays or MRI scans. Treatment for frozen shoulder may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections for pain, treatment of the underlying risk factors or shoulder arthroscopy surgery. During surgery, the scar tissue is removed and tight ligaments are dissected. Following surgery, physical therapy is advised to bring full range of motion and strengthen the muscles.

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