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TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute

Frozen Shoulder

When a shoulder condition like a frozen shoulder occurs, the pain can be significant. A frozen shoulder prevents arm and shoulder mobility. TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine have assembled a team of nationally renowned specialists who offer treatment options to help get you back to feeling better.

Your shoulder combines three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle). The ball at the top of the humerus fits into the socket in the shoulder blade. The rotator cuff tendons hold your shoulder together. The shoulder and tendons are encased in connective tissue called the shoulder capsule.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, is inflammation and shrinkage of the shoulder joint capsule. The capsule gradually thickens and becomes stiff, and sometimes the amount of fluid in the shoulder joint, synovial fluid, reduces. As the capsule shrinks, shoulder movement in any direction becomes increasingly difficult, causing your shoulder to become immobile: it freezes. With a frozen shoulder, it is impossible move your arm either on your own or with help.

Frozen shoulder causes

The cause of frozen shoulder and inflammation of the shoulder capsule is unknown. Your type of work or whether you are left- or right-handed are not factors in frozen shoulder.

Frozen shoulder risk factors

While the exact cause of frozen shoulder is not known, risk factors may include trauma or other inflammatory conditions. Other conditions that may increase your risk for frozen shoulder include:

  • Cervical disk disease of the neck
  • Changes in your hormones, such as during menopause
  • Diabetes
  • Open heart surgery
  • Shoulder injury or surgery
  • Thyroid problems
  • Women 40 to 70 years old are most affected

Frozen shoulder symptoms

The main symptoms of frozen shoulder are:

  • Severe shoulder pain
  • Stiffness in the shoulder
  • Loss of passive range of motion (Active range of motion is you moving your arm, passive range of motion is someone else moving your arm.)

Frozen shoulder treatment

Without treatment, frozen shoulder often resolves within two years. You may regain most range of motion. Nonsurgical and surgical treatment for frozen shoulder may include:

  • Minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery of the joint capsule tissue to restore motion
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections

Frozen shoulder prevention

Prevention is difficult because early symptoms are shoulder pain, which could result from many conditions.

  • Early treatment can help reduce stiffness
  • Control conditions like diabetes or thyroid disorders
  • Contact your doctor if you have chronic shoulder pain, stiffness or reduced range of motion

Make an appointment

To learn more about frozen shoulder or make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist: Call TriHealth at 513 246 2300 or our orthopedic partner, Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, at 513 354 3700.

TriHealth Orthopedic and Spine Institute
TOSI: 513 246 2300
Beacon: 513 354 3700
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