Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that causes restriction of motion in the shoulder joint. The cause of a frozen shoulder is not well understood, but it often occurs for no known reason. Frozen shoulder causes the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint to contract and form scar tissue.
Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle).
The head of the upper arm bone fits into a shallow socket in your shoulder blade. Strong connective tissue, called the shoulder capsule, surrounds the joint.
To help your shoulder move more easily, synovial fluid lubricates the shoulder capsule and the joint.
Although the exact cause is unknown, certain factors may increase your risk of developing frozen shoulder.
Age and sex
People 40 and older are more likely to experience frozen shoulder. Most of the people who develop the condition are women.
Immobility or reduced mobility
People who have experienced prolonged immobility or reduced mobility of their shoulder are at higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. Immobility may be the result of many factors, including:
People who have certain medical problems appear to be predisposed to develop frozen shoulder. Examples include:
Frozen shoulder is caused when the flexible tissue that surrounds the shoulder joint, known as the capsule, becomes inflamed and thickened.
It is not fully understood why this happens, although there are a number of things that make developing a frozen shoulder more likely. These include having:
- a shoulder injury or shoulder surgery
- Dupuytren's contracture - a condition where small lumps of thickened tissue form in the hands and fingers
- other health conditions, such as heart diseaseand stroke
- Physiotherapy - to prevent any further stiffness and regain range of motion
- Painkillers and anti-inflammatories
- Injections - reduce inflammation and provide pain relief
- Hydrodilatation Procedure - more effective than simple injections in relieving severe pain and improving range of motion
- Surgery - Surgery has been shown to be of benefit in both the early and later stages of a Frozen Shoulder. This may involve an arthroscopic Capsular Release or Manipulation Under Anaesthetic (MUA). We prefer the Capsular Release procedure. It is excellent for both pain relief and restoring movement, with a success rate of 96% at 6 months. Intensive physiotherapy is essential after the surgery.
When the shoulder pain is severe:
When pain is relieved, but movement of shoulder is still restricted, we should:
- Use the affected side more and perform stretching exercise to decrease stiffness.
- Consult health professional for maintenance exercise.