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Frozen Shoulder


What is a "frozen shoulder"?


Frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis.  The capsule surrounding the shoulder reacts to injury or inflammation and becomes stiff, causing pain and limited range of motion of the shoulder.


What causes frozen shoulder?


Frozen shoulder can occur when you stop using your shoulder normally because of injury or pain, or from a chronic health condition, like diabetes.  Actually, any shoulder problem can lead to frozen shoulder if you don’t continue to move your shoulder and maintain your normal range of motion.


How you do diagnose frozen shoulder?


A physical examination will reveal limited range of motion, not only with you moving your arm (active motion) but also when the physician tries to move your arm (passive motion).  An x-ray may be helpful to evaluate for arthritis, which may also cause limited motion of the shoulder.


How do you treat frozen shoulder?


Anti-inflammatory medication with a course of physical therapy focusing on stretching the capsule is usually the initial treatment.  A cortisone injection may also be used to decrease pain and aid with increasing range of motion.  Most cases of frozen shoulder improve with conservative, nonsurgical methods, although it may take a few months to gain all of your motion depending on how severely limited your motion was to start.  Rarely, in more serious cases, surgery is needed.

Select from the topics below
to learn more about shoulder injuries,
disorders and treatment options

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