Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint, making it difficult to move the arm.

Common Symptoms

Common Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder:

  • Severe pain in the shoulder, especially with movement
  • Gradual loss of shoulder mobility and range of motion
  • Inability to move the shoulder, either actively or passively

The symptoms typically occur in three stages:

  • Freezing stage: Shoulder pain increases gradually over time, and range of motion becomes limited.
  • Frozen stage: Pain may improve, but stiffness remains, making daily activities difficult.
  • Thawing stage: Shoulder motion slowly improves over 6 months to 2 years.

Cause & Anatomy

The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by inflammation and scarring of the shoulder joint capsule, leading to adhesions that restrict movement. Risk factors include diabetes, thyroid disorders, immobilization after injury or surgery, and other inflammatory conditions.

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of the humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collarbone). The joint capsule surrounds the joint and contains synovial fluid for lubrication.


Diagnosis involves a physical examination to assess range of motion, pain, and stiffness. X-rays may be ordered to rule out other conditions like arthritis. MRI or ultrasound may be used to evaluate soft tissue damage.


Early movement and physical therapy after shoulder injury or surgery can help prevent frozen shoulder.


  • Physical therapy: Stretching exercises and range-of-motion exercises to improve mobility.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: To reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Steroid injections: To reduce inflammation in the joint.
  • Ice and heat therapy: To manage pain and inflammation.


If non-surgical treatments are ineffective, surgical options include:

  • Manipulation under anesthesia: The shoulder is forcibly moved through its range of motion to break up adhesions.
  • Shoulder arthroscopy: A minimally invasive procedure to release the joint capsule and remove scar tissue.


Aggressive physical therapy and range-of-motion exercises are crucial after surgery to prevent scar tissue from reforming and regain full mobility.


How long does frozen shoulder last?
The condition typically lasts 1-3 years, with the freezing stage lasting 6-9 months, the frozen stage 4-6 months, and the thawing stage 6 months to 2 years.

Can frozen shoulder be permanent?
No, frozen shoulder is not permanent. With proper treatment and rehabilitation, most people regain full or nearly full range of motion, although it may take up to 2 years.

Is frozen shoulder more common in certain age groups?
Yes, frozen shoulder most commonly affects people between the ages of 40 and 60, and it occurs more often in women than men.

Can frozen shoulder occur in both shoulders?
While frozen shoulder usually affects only one shoulder, about one-third of patients experience symptoms in both shoulders.

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