Frozen shoulder

Alternative Names

Adhesive capsulitis

Definition of Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder is when the shoulder is painful and loses motion because of inflammation.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The joint capsule of the shoulder joint has ligaments that hold the shoulder bones to each other. When the capsule becomes inflamed, the shoulder bones are unable to move freely in the joint.

Symptoms

The main symptoms are:

Signs and tests

The health care provider will make the diagnosis based on your symptoms and an examination of your shoulder. You will have a loss of rotation in your shoulder.

Treatment

Pain is treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and steroid injections. Steroid injections plus physical therapy can improve your motion.

Expectations (prognosis)

Treatment with therapy and NSAIDs will usually return the motion and function of the shoulder within a year. Even if left untreated, the frozen shoulder can get better by itself in 24 months.

Review

Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 10/31/2010

Shoulder joint inflammation

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.