Frozen shoulder

‘Frozen shoulder’ is the most abused diagnosis.  Literally any pain in the shoulder is labeled as ‘Frozen shoulder’, and treated with complacence as it is believed that frozen shoulder has a self-resolving course.The fact is that a large number of painful shoulders are not frozen shoulders in the first place. There are other causes of shoulder pain which have a different course and treatment.

True ‘Frozen shoulder’ or more aptly called adhesive capsulitis, is a disease of unknown etiology where the shoulder becomes painful and develops restriction of movements. A classical frozen shoulder goes through three phases – phase of pain, followed by phase of stiffness followed by phase of resolution, approximately 3 months each. The treatment is essentially physiotherapy. We use CPM machine for mobilising these shoulders, and it works wonders. An injection in the shoulder may sometimes be required to ease out the pain, and thus help with physiotherapy. Vast majority of patients with frozen shoulder respond to this treatment. In those who are recalcitrant, intervention in the form of manipulation under anaesthesia or arthroscopic surgical release may be required.