Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About a Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

  1. It is not a shoulder that has frostbite…
  2. A frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis. It is a condition that most commonly affects women (70 % of women vs 30% of men).
  3. Diabetics are also commonly affected. If you are a diabetic you have a 20-30% chance of developing a frozen shoulder. Diabetics also tend to have more severe cases of frozen shoulders than the general population.
  4. There is typically no injury that causes this condition.
  5. People will notice that they are slowly losing range of motion of the shoulder or the shoulder becomes more and more painful.
  6. Treatment starts with a cortisone injection in conjunction with physical therapy. The cortisone will help to reduce the inflammation and pain . The PT is to stretch out the tight structures in the shoulder joint.
  7. If PT and the cortisone shot fail then the next step is surgical intervention.
  8. A closed manipulation is typically the first surgical step. This is completed in a surgical center. A nerve block (this typically will last for 18 hours) is placed to reduce post-operative pain and light anesthesia is administrated. The surgeon places the shoulder through different planes of motion to break up the scar tissue and release the adhesions. After this procedure, the patient will see a physical therapist the day of in order to further manipulate the shoulder and arm while the nerve block is protecting against pain. I typically recommend PT 4-5 times for the first 3 weeks after this initial manipulation.
  9. If a closed manipulation fails then arthroscopic lysis of adhesions is needed. This is a true surgical procedure where we release the capsule around the shoulder joint and reset the areas of fibrosis (scar tissue).

For more information on treating a frozen shoulder (aka Adhesive Capsulitis), contact Stacie Grossfeld and the Orthopaedic Specialists at 502-212-2663.