Adhesive Capsulitis

Adhesive capsulitis causes pain in the shoulder and also known as “frozen shoulder”. Its name is itself explanatory that the shoulder joint becomes “freeze” or there is a loss of shoulder joint movements in all directions ( as we all know that shoulder joint is the most mobile joint).  it is a painful condition.

The ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder is encapsulated by a group of ligaments known as the shoulder joint capsule. The inflammation or thickening or stiffening of this shoulder joint capsule is referred to as adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder.

In case your shoulder is not being used adequately, pain increases, the capsule thickens, and becomes hard. This makes the shoulder movement even more difficult or you can say the shoulder has frozen.

Frozen shoulder causes

  • The main cause of frozen shoulder is inflammation, thickening, shrinkage, and scarring of the shoulder joint capsule the covers the shoulder joint.
  • Injury to the shoulder can also cause frozen shoulder and conditions like rotator cuff injury, bursitis, tendinitis can also lead to frozen shoulder.
  • Frozen shoulder is also common in people who are diabetic or have shoulder inflammatory arthritis.
  • Diseases like thyroid (hyper/hypo), cardiovascular problem, Parkinson’s may also lead to frozen shoulder
  • People over 40s are also at the risk of having adhesive capsulitis
  • Immobility of the shoulder joint after an injury or surgery can also make your shoulder freeze

Stages of frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder develops slowly, Its symptoms devises into three stages

  • Freezing: All shoulder movement causes pain and the movement starts restricting
  • Frozen: Shoulder joint becomes stiff and shoulder movement becomes difficult
  • Thawing (Recovery phase): Wherein the pain reduces and shoulder movement improves

Frozen shoulder symptoms

  • Shoulder pain
  • Stiffness
  • Restricted or loss of range of motion
  • Trouble moving your shoulder
  • Overhead activities become very painful and difficult
  • You can also feel crepitus while joint movement
  • Daily routine activities compromise the most like combing hairs, putting on a shirt or t-shirt, etc.


  • Physical examination: Your doctor will check for shoulder movements and muscle strength
  • An anesthetic agent administered into the shoulder helps in the evaluation of the active and passive joint movement
  • Frozen shoulder is easily diagnosable with the history and symptoms. Still, your doctor may prescribe an X-ray or MRI for the specification.


  • Move your shoulder as much as you can
  • Physiotherapy: exercises help you a lot with your frozen shoulder, do exercises under the guidance of a physiotherapist, that improve the shoulder activity and enhance the muscle strength
  • Your doctor can suggest a steroid injection into shoulder joint to reduce the pain and to enhance the activity
  • Joint distension: Your doctor injects sterile water into the joint capsule to stretch the capsule
  • Manipulation under anesthesia: After giving anesthetic agent, the physician moves the shoulder in all possible range to improve the mobility and breakdown the adhesions
  • Surgical intervention: In case there is no improvement after all the conservative methods then your doctor will suggest surgery. Adhesions and scars are usually removed using arthroscopy.
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