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Adhesive Capsulitis

Adhesive capsulitis is defined as restriction of motion of a joint.  While any joint can be affected, the shoulder joint is most commonly involved.  Adhesive capsulitis is often referred to as "frozen shoulder".  Onset can be rapid in nature or insidious.  Pain often accompanies adhesive capsulitis, but is not a defining factor.  One may develop shoulder restriction of motion after another injury, for example, a wrist fracture requiring extended immobilization. 

Symptoms of adhesive capsulitis include restriction of motion, weakness, and often pain.  These symptoms can get worse over a short period of time or even slowly over several months.  Certain directions of shoulder motion will often be affected more than others.

Adhesive capsulitis is diagnosed by your physician via careful physical exam.  Adhesive capsulitis tests include seeing which directions of motion have restriction and/or cause you pain.  Strength testing is also important in evaluating impingement syndrome. X-rays are taken to rule out fractures, dislocations, tumors, calcific deposits, osteoarthritis, and to evaluate for bone spurs. MRI scans may be ordered to rule out rotator cuff tears.

Treatment focuses on regaining range of motion.  This involves a diligent stretching protocol, often with a physical therapist as well as a home program.  If the pain is involved, then icing, anti-inflammatory medications, and activity restrictions may be advised.  Recovery of range of motion can be slow, often measured in months.  If conservative measures fail to provide recovery, consideration may be made for your physician to stretch your shoulder under anesthesia to break up scar tissue.  If you are experiencing a progressive loss of motion of a joint, particularly, the shoulder, consult your physician.

Dr. Al DeSimone (954) 389-5900