Treatment for Frozen Shoulder
Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a common shoulder condition which causes stiffness and pain that builds up slowly over time. It can be debilitating – affecting day-to-day activities, preventing you from doing sport, and affecting your sleep.
If you would like advice on how to treat a frozen shoulder, or you are seeking a referral to an orthopaedic specialist, contact our team of highly experienced medical professionals for an in-depth diagnosis and treatment plan.
The Capital Orthopaedics team of consultant surgeons, radiologists, physiotherapists and nurses is led by Simon Moyes, a renowned orthopaedic consultant surgeon operating in London.
We offer diagnosis and treatment for all musculoskeletal conditions – including shoulder injuries.
What is frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)?
The rounded top of your upper arm bone (humerus head) fits into a socket (glenoid) in your shoulder blade, forming the glenohumeral shoulder joint. The joint is encased in a capsule of connective tissue.
This tissue can become thickened and inflamed, making it difficult for the bones and other structures of your shoulder to move freely.
What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder?
The symptoms develop slowly a long period of time. Typically, the condition occurs in three stages – each one can last months:
- Freezing: limited range of motion, and any movement of your shoulder is painful
- Frozen: pain levels go down, but the shoulder becomes stiffer and very hard to move.
- Thawing: range of motion improves
During the freezing stage, pain often gets worse at night.
What causes frozen shoulder?
The inflammation and thickening of the capsule can happen without any obvious cause. However, it can be associated with:
- Scar tissue buildup – as a result of an injury or after an operation
- Immobilisation of your shoulder – for example, after an injury, an operation or a stroke
- Rotator cuff injury – damage to the tube of tendons around your shoulder joint
- Diabetes / thyroid disorders / tuberculosis / Parkinson’s disease –adhesive capsulitis is more common in people with these conditions
How can a frozen shoulder be treated?
If you have long term pain and stiffness in your shoulder, it is important to seek medical advice. Frozen shoulder can usually be diagnosed through a physical examination, but we offer x-rays and MRI or ultrasound scans to rule out any other conditions.
Frozen shoulder can be treated in a number of ways:
- Physiotherapy: a rehabilitation programme of gentle stretching exercises to increase mobility.
- Steroid injections: to reduce inflammation and pain in your shoulder, which improves movement.
- Distension: injecting fluid into your shoulder to stretch the capsule and improve range of motion.
- Manipulation: pulling your shoulder joint in different directions to stretch the capsule. This is carried out under general anaesthetic.
- Surgery: very rarely, keyhole (arthroscopic) surgery is used to remove scar tissue from inside the joint capsule.
How Capital Orthopaedics Can Help Treat Your Frozen Shoulder
We are based at The Cromwell Hospital in Central London, and offer consultations, dedicated diagnostics, physiotherapy and outpatient treatments at The Platinum Medical Centre near Regent’s Park, and The Basinghall Clinic in the City.
Frequently Asked Questions
Adhesive capsulitis can be diagnosed based on your symptoms and a physical exam. Our orthopaedic specialists will also offer x-rays, MRI or ultrasound scans to rule out any other conditions.
It is very rare for it to recur in the same shoulder, but there is some chance that you will get it in the other shoulder.
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