Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Frozen Shoulder
Browse and register for related classes.
Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is stiffness, pain, and
limited range of movement in your
shoulder. It may happen after an injury or overuse or from a disease such as diabetes or
a stroke. The tissues around
the joint stiffen, scar tissue forms, and shoulder movements become difficult
and painful. The condition usually comes on slowly, then goes away slowly over the course of a year or more.
Frozen shoulder can develop when you stop using the joint
normally because of pain, injury, or a chronic health condition, such as
diabetes or a stroke. Any shoulder problem can lead to frozen shoulder if you
do not work to keep full range of motion.
Frozen shoulder occurs:
Your doctor may suspect frozen shoulder if a
physical exam reveals limited shoulder movement. An X-ray may be done to see whether symptoms are from another condition such as arthritis or a broken bone.
Treatment for frozen shoulder usually starts with
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and
application of heat to the affected area, followed by gentle stretching. Ice
and medicines (including corticosteroid injections) may also be used to
reduce pain and swelling. And physical therapy can help increase your range of
motion. A frozen shoulder can take a year or more to get better.
If treatment is not helping, surgery is sometimes done to loosen some of the tight tissues around the shoulder. Two surgeries are often done. In one surgery, called manipulation under anesthesia, you are put to sleep and then your arm is moved into positions that stretch the tight tissue. The other surgery uses an arthroscope to cut through tight tissues and scar tissue. These surgeries can both be done at the same time.
Gentle, progressive range-of-motion exercises, stretching, and
using your shoulder more may help prevent frozen shoulder after surgery or an injury. Experts don't know what causes some cases of frozen shoulder, and it may not be possible to prevent these. But be patient and follow your doctor's advice. Frozen shoulder nearly always gets better over time.
Other Works Consulted
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Frozen shoulder. In JF Sarwark, ed., Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 4th ed., pp. 291–294. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
McMahon PJ, et al. (2014). Sports medicine. In HB Skinner, PJ McMahon, eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Orthopedics, 5th ed., pp. 88–155. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerPatrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
Current as ofFebruary 23, 2015
Current as of:
February 23, 2015
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Patrick J. McMahon, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
250 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
Contact Concord Hospital
View Quality Data
© 2015 Concord Hospital