What is Frozen Shoulder?

Adhesive capsulitis, commonly known as frozen shoulder, is the painful inflammation of the capsule where the humorous, or upper arm bone, fits into the ball-and-socket type joint of your shoulder.  When the capsule, or connective tissue at the end of the humorous becomes inflamed, it causes adhesions that contribute to stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint.  It is particularly noticeable when trying to get dressed or doing any overhead movements such as reaching, playing tennis or swimming.

Persons with certain types of diseases may be at higher risk, but the cause is not completely known.  To receive a proper diagnosis, you should visit a sports medicine physician or orthopedic specialist to rule out other possible causes such as a rotator cuff tear or tendonitis.


Initially, your doctor may recommend an anti-inflammatory, physical therapy and heat to relieve soreness and strengthen the rotator cuff and scapula muscles that are often affected and irritated by frozen shoulder.  In many cases, frozen shoulder heals itself, however, it can take several months or  even a few years.  If the condition persists, steroid injections and surgery to relieve the adhesions may be required.

More often than not, this condition improves with physical therapy and plenty of patience. In most cases, you can avoid surgery by following your therapist’s recommendations.