Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder

Body Part


The shoulder is a ball and socket joint in the upper extremity. The glenoid (socket) and the humeral head (ball) form the gleno-humeral joint. This joint is enclosed in a capsule. Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that thickens and inflames the normally soft and pliable shoulder capsule leading to severe pain and stiffness.


Patients who have diabetes have a greater risk of frozen shoulder, but it can also occur after an injury or prolonged immobilization.


The individual will complain of severe pain and stiffness which limits shoulder function.


A history and examination is normally all that is required to make the diagnosis, and treatment consists of controlling the pain whilst gently moving the shoulder to prevent worsening of the stiffness. An injection may be required (this could take the form of a steroid injection or a large volume local anaesthetic injection to expand the joint, relieve pain and improve motion) to help control symptoms. In rare cases of recalcitrant stiffness, an operation to release the thick scar tissue may be required. This is done using keyhole surgery and your surgeon can discuss this with you if required.