Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed shoulder problems that I encounter in the office. Frozen shoulder is caused by an inflammatory condition starting in the lining of the shoulder. The inflammatory phase of the condition causes a great deal of pain with almost any range of shoulder motion. As the inflammation cools down, the capsular lining of the shoulder tends to become thickened and scarred, resulting in an often dramatic decrease in shoulder range of motion. The condition is more common in women, patients with diabetes and thyroid problems (or a family history of these). Patients tend to complain of pain and shoulder stiffness. Often, patients come to the office frustrated after being involved in physical therapy for some time.
The natural course of frozen shoulder has a very favorable prognosis. Most cases will resolve on their own without any formal treatment. Unfortunately, this can take a great deal of time, up to one year. Our goal in treatment is to make you feel better, faster. The mainstay of treatment is nonoperative, involving anti-inflammatory medications (advil, alieve, etc) or cortisone injections in conjunction with a course of home based physical therapy. About 80% of patients will get better with this treatment. If this is not working, an arthroscopic surgery to remove the scar tissue in the shoulder may be offered. Dr. Walker will help you make the best decision based on your symptoms.