The term 'frozen shoulder' has been applied to shoulders with a wide variety of diagnoses which lead to a loss of movement but a true frozen shoulder is one with a global loss of movement at the shoulder joint due to a shrinkage of the tissues around the shoulder. This is called several other names including adhesive capsulitis.
Treatment of Frozen Shoulder
If the diagnosis is correct then a frozen shoulder will improve over time without any treatment if you can tolerate the pain. This may take months or even up to five years. Once the frozen shoulder has resolved it will not freeze up again.
This has a limited role in the treatment. Some studies suggest that aggressive stretching will actually delay improvement. There is a role for physiotherapy in reducing pain and maintaining posture.
Again, these have a role in reducing inflammation and so helping pain control. They may not speed up resolution of a frozen shoulder.
More information about steroid injections
If conservative (non operative) treatment is not controlling the pain or if the level of stiffness makes daily tasks too difficult then a surgical option may be discussed. It is important to know that these procedures may not be successful in 40%, or more, of patients. This is why your doctor will usually recommend non surgical treatment first.
Arthroscopic Capsular Release.
This involves an anaesthetic (usually general plus an interscalene block)
Two or three small keyhole are made at the back and front of your shoulder to allow an arthroscope and instruments into the shoulder are made. The scar tissue can be seen, photographed and cut away.
You may be able to go home the same day.
You will need extensive physiotherapy afterwards.
Results are quite variable and you may find no improvement however 8 out of 10 patients feel the operate was worthwhile.
Useful Link: Frozen Shoulder
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