Frozen Shoulder

We see a vast amount of nonsurgical conditions at our orthopedic urgent care, Direct Orthopedic Care (DOC) in the Boise area. Our Physician Assistants (PA) with the help from our two sport medicine physicians, Dr. Craig Smith and Dr. Mark Williams are able to follow and treat patients with these conditions. One of the most common conditions they manage is frozen shoulder.

What is frozen shoulder?

Often referred to as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder is a condition that limits range of motion in the shoulder joint. The capsule around the shoulder contracts causing scar tissue or adhesions to form. There are known risk factors for frozen shoulder. First, women are more commonly affected by frozen shoulder, and are even higher risk if they are between the ages of 40 and 60. Additionally, patients who are affected by diabetes are at a higher risk for developing adhesive capsulitis. Finally, patients who have a shoulder injury or surgery are at a high risk for developing frozen shoulder due to prolonged periods without shoulder movement.

Diagnosing frozen shoulder can be difficult because the symptoms that present are similar to those of a rotator cuff tear. Usually, patients decide to see an orthopedic specialist because of the persistent pain associated with frozen shoulder, rarely do patients realize their lack of range of motion. To diagnose frozen shoulder accurately the provider must be able to isolate the movement in within the joint.

How to treat frozen shoulder

Treatment of frozen shoulder includes physical therapy and pain relief measures, such as anti-inflammatories. In most cases stretching and physical therapy will be the only treatment necessary. These nonsurgical treatment options can be ordered by any of our providers at DOC. Patients can take up to 3 years to have symptoms fully resolve although in most cases the healing time is roughly 12-18 months. Initially, the pain is the worst in the first few months and will slowly get better over time with treatment.

In the most severe cases surgery may be considered. The surgical procedure used for adhesive capsulitis is arthroscopic capsular release, where the surgeon goes in and breaks up the scar tissue. This procedure is immediately followed by physical therapy to be successful.

If you have concerns about your shoulder, walk-in to DOC!