Frozen Shoulder – Adhesive Capsulitis

Frozen Shoulder Adhesive Capsulitis – Everything You Need To Know

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)

The frozen shoulder can be associated with diabetes or thyroid disease.  It may be the initial presenting symptom for these conditions.  The exact details of this relationship remain poorly understood.  Ever patient with a frozen shoulder should have the HbA1c and TSH levels tested.  Also, check for arthritis, rheumatoid factors and antinuclear antibodies.  Most patients with frozen shoulder are female between the ages of 40 and 60 years old.  And frozen shoulder, the patient will lose both the active and the passive range of motion of the shoulder.  The patient develops pain, which means that there is inflammation with early fibrosis of the joint capsule, leading to joint stiffness.  The active and passive global motion, especially external rotation, will be reduced compared to the other side.  The shoulder pain and motion loss is usually not related to trauma.  It is an idiopathic process that results in shoulder pain and loss of motion due to contracture of the capsule.  The essential lesion involves the coracohumeral ligament and the rotator interval.  The synovial inflammation and capsular fibrosis results in pain and joint volume loss.  Check for previous trauma or fractures.  Rule out shoulder joint arthritis and rule out posterior dislocation of the shoulder.  It can also occur post-surgery from a rotator cuff tear.  It may also be associated with dupuytren disease and cervical disc disease.  Check for medical comorbidities such as stroke or cardiac diseases.  The x-ray will exclude trauma, malignancy, arthritis, calcific tendinitis, impingement, and AC joint arthritis.  And frozen shoulder, the humeral head will remain in its normal location.


There is a space reduction in the axillary recess.  Rotator cuff strength is normal by exam and on the MRI.  The pain and stiffness lasts beyond 6 months, then you can do manipulation of the shoulder under anesthesia.  There is a 50% failure rate in diabetics.  The diabetes is associated with a much worse prognosis and poor outcome for surgical and nonsurgical treatment.


·         Nonoperative

o   This should be done for at least 3 to 6 months.

o   Supervised or home-based capsular stretching program +/-intra-articular steroid joint injection.

o   Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication

·         Surgery

o   Capsular release (arthroscopic or open) and release the intra-articular and subacromial adhesions.

o   The axillary nerve may be injured during release of the capsule.

o   Utilize surgery in patients that have failure of initial conservative treatment for 3 months, and the patient remains functionally limited.

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