Frozen Shoulder
(Adhesive Capsulitis)

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Frozen shoulder facts

  • Frozen shoulder is the result of scarring, thickening, and shrinkage of the joint capsule.
  • Any injury to the shoulder can lead to a frozen shoulder.
  • A frozen shoulder is usually diagnosed during an examination.
  • A frozen shoulder usually requires aggressive treatment.

What is a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder is a shoulder joint with significant loss of its range of motion in all directions. The range of motion is limited not only when the patient attempts motion but also when the doctor attempts to move the joint fully while the patient relaxes. A frozen shoulder is medically referred to as adhesive capsulitis.

What causes a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is the result of inflammation, scarring, thickening, and shrinkage of the capsule that surrounds the normal shoulder joint. Any injury to the shoulder can lead to a frozen shoulder, including tendinitis, bursitis, and rotator cuff injury (rotator cuff syndrome). Frozen shoulders occur more frequently in patients with risk factors of diabetes, chronic inflammatory arthritis of the shoulder, or after chest or breast surgery. Long-term immobility of the shoulder joint can put people at risk to develop a frozen shoulder.

What are symptoms and signs of a frozen shoulder?

Symptoms and signs of a frozen shoulder include pain, stiffness, and loss of range of motion of the shoulder. The shoulder range of motion is limited when either the patient or an examiner attempts to move the joint. The shoulder can develop increased pain with use. These symptoms can make sleep very uncomfortable.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/15/2014

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