About Physiatry

Adhesive Capsulitis

Condition: Adhesive capsulitis is also called “frozen shoulder” (FS), and results in pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint.

Background:  FS occurs when inflammation around the shoulder joint leads to the build-up of fibrous tissue.    

Risk Factors: Only about 2% of the population gets FS, but it occurs in about 11% of people with diabetes. People with other conditions, such as thyroid problems, autoimmune disease, and breast cancer are also at higher risk. People who work in desk jobs are at high risk than those who do manual labor.

History and Symptoms: FS gets worse over time, starting with pain when the arm is moved from the shoulder joint. The pain is usually worse at night. Over time, the shoulder become stiff, making it harder to move, but there is less pain.

Physical Exam: The doctor will test strength and range of motion from the shoulder by asking you to move your arms into certain positions, such as putting your palms together in a prayer position.      

Diagnostic Process: The doctor will want to know if you have trouble doing daily activities, such as reaching for things. Blood or urine tests are not able to diagnose FC, but these may be done to rule out other problems such as rheumatoid arthritis. Imaging studies also are used mainly to rule out other problems. An imaging study called magnetic resonance arthrography may let the doctor see how much tissue has built up in the shoulder.     

Rehab Management: Drugs are used for inflammation and pain, along with physical therapy and home exercise. If these treatments do not help, injections of drugs into the joint, surgery or other invasive treatments may be tried. 

Other Resources for Patients and Families:  Since home therapy is so important, family support can be very helpful. 


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