Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Frozen shoulder at a glance

  • Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a condition in which the capsule of connective tissue around the shoulder joint becomes thicker, restricting movement.
  • Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, and restricted range of motion, which develop in several stages.
  • Treatment options include over-the-counter pain medication, physical therapy, or injections of corticosteroids or sterile water into the affected joint. Be sure to talk to your pharmacist before purchasing anti-inflammatories as these medications may be contraindicated as they may interact with other medications and medical conditions.
  • Most cases of frozen shoulder go away within 18 months, but for some patients, surgery may be necessary.

See a specialist for frozen shoulder


Causes of frozen shoulder

The exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown. However, frozen shoulder often occurs after surgery or injury, when the shoulder joint has been immobilized for an extended period of time.

Frozen shoulder can also occur as a result of chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes, and people over 40 are more likely to develop frozen shoulder.

Symptoms of frozen shoulder

Symptoms of frozen shoulder usually develop gradually over several months, and typically include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Restricted range of motion in the joint
  • Stiffness

Frozen shoulder symptoms can last for 12-18 months, and will usually go away over the course of several months.

Treatment for frozen shoulder

Initial treatment for frozen shoulder includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like Advil or Aleve. Applying heat or ice to the joint and gently stretching it, as well as injections of corticosteroids or sterile water into the joint, can also help relieve the pain.

Physical therapy can help maintain the joint’s range of motion. However, if the symptoms are severe and treatment is not helping, surgery may be necessary.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a frozen shoulder, contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic shoulder specialists.