Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

by Dr. Richard Bartholomew

Bone and Joint Specialists- frozen shoulder photo

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen Shoulder also called Adhesive Capsulitis, is a term we use to describe the tightening of the innermost ligaments in the shoulder. The ligaments get very tight and contracted. Think of it as putting on a tight shirt and trying to move your shoulder around.

What Causes  Frozen Shoulder?

The textbooks state that it happens without a cause, but it is more common in diabetics, patients with thyroid problems and other medical conditions. It is important to be aware of this so that we can diagnose an underlying condition you may not even know you have. It affects women and men equally. I tend to see it in patients in their fifth and sixth decades of life, and it can be common in women who are experiencing menopause.

Frozen Shoulder Symptoms

Frozen shoulder symptoms usually present with a painful and stiff shoulder. Movement of the shoulder hurts. Most of the patients have usually been to see a physical therapist and have not improved.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Frozen shoulder treatment is done with medication to decrease the inflammation in the shoulder and with physical therapy. The normal course is for the frozen shoulder to initially get very painful and stiff and over time loosen up. Without proper treatment, this can take a year to a year and a half to improve. With the proper treatment, one can greatly reduce the time with this painful condition. Over 90% of the patients do very well with conservative treatment. Those who do not respond favorably may be candidates for surgery.

Frozen Shoulder Surgery

Frozen shoulder surgery is done in the operating room to release the tight ligaments.  I can either break up the contractures manually with gentle manipulation, or it can be done with an arthroscope. Each individual is different so check with me if you have specific questions.

Frozen Shoulder Rehabilitation

It will be very important for you to start physical therapy right after the scar tissue has been released. I begin physical therapy the day after the procedure and continue it for at least six weeks. I have specific postoperative rehab protocols which we will use. Having a good physical therapist is imperative for good post-operative success.

Dr. Bartholomew, orthopedic shoulder surgeon in Michigan, specializes in the treatment of painful frozen shoulder conditions. Call our office to schedule a consultation to diagnose your Adhesive Capsulitis at (248) 673-0500.

Make An Appointment

To schedule an appointment, please call (248) 673-0500 ext 14 OR Make an Appointment Request online.

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