1. Health
Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

What Is a Frozen Shoulder?

As the name implies, movement of the shoulder is severely restricted in people with a frozen shoulder. This condition, which doctors call adhesive capsulitis, is frequently caused by injury that leads to lack of use due to pain. Intermittent periods of use may cause inflammation. Adhesions (abnormal bands of tissue) grow between the joint surfaces, restricting motion. There is also a lack of synovial fluid, which normally lubricates the gap between the arm bone and socket to help the shoulder joint move. It is this restricted space between the capsule and ball of the humerus that distinguishes adhesive capsulitis from a less complicated painful, stiff shoulder. There are a number of risk factors for frozen shoulder, including diabetes, stroke, accidents, lung disease, and heart disease. The condition rarely appears in people under 40 years old.

What Are the Signs of a Frozen Shoulder and How Is It Diagnosed?

With a frozen shoulder, the joint becomes so tight and stiff that it is nearly impossible to carry out simple movements, such as raising the arm. People complain that the stiffness and discomfort worsens at night. A doctor may suspect the patient has a frozen shoulder if a physical examination reveals limited shoulder movement. An arthrogram may confirm the diagnosis.

How Is a Frozen Shoulder Treated?

Treatment of this disorder focuses on restoring joint movement and reducing shoulder pain. Usually, treatment begins with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the application of heat, followed by gentle stretching exercises. These stretching exercises, which may be performed in the home with the help of a therapist, are the treatment of choice. In some cases, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) with a small battery-operated unit may be used to reduce pain by blocking nerve impulses. If these measures are unsuccessful, the doctor may recommend manipulation of the shoulder under general anesthesia. Surgery to probe into the joint and cut the adhesions is only necessary in some cases.

How Common Are Shoulder Problems?
Structures of the Shoulder and Function
Causes of Shoulder Problems
Shoulder Problems Diagnosis
Index to Shoulder Injuries and Problems
Shoulder Dislocation
Shoulder Separation
Tendinitis, Bursitis, and Impingement Syndrome
Torn Rotator Cuff
Shoulder Fracture
Arthritis Of The Shoulder

If you have any questions or comments on senior health nutrition, fitness, etc., go to the Senior Health Forum where we are talking about the following:





Subscribe to the Newsletter
Name
Email

The information contained in these pages
is for educational / reference use only.

Sources:
UT Southwestern

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.