Adhesive capsulitis, more commonly known as frozen shoulder, may be responsible for causing pain and stiffness within the shoulder joint in certain Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and NYC patients. Over time, many individuals suffering from this condition experience loss of joint mobility as the shoulder becomes more and more difficult to move. It is reported more women than men, mainly between the ages of 40-60 years, develop the shoulder condition. Orthopedic shoulder specialist, Dr. Jonathan Ticker specializes in treating patients as they progress through the three stages of frozen shoulder.
Frozen shoulder is reported to affect approximately 2% of the general population. The shoulder condition is marked by inflammation and stiffness in the shoulder that causes the joint to experience restricted movement. Adhesive capsulitis occurs when the soft tissues of the shoulder begin to thicken and contract from scar tissue formation. The scar tissue, also known as adhesions, is the true cause of lost mobility and range of motion.
Frozen shoulder develops and progresses through three stages, including:
- Freezing- During the freezing stage, the shoulder begins to lose range of motion as the pain steadily increases. This stage lasts from 6 weeks to 9 months.
- Frozen- During the frozen stage, pain typically improves but joint stiffness remains. Activities become quite difficult during this stage, usually at the 4-6 month mark.
- Thawing- During the thawing stage, shoulder motion returns and pain subsides. This stage usually takes patients 6 months to 2 years to reach, and may be motion recovery may be incomplete.
Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder
The most common symptoms of frozen shoulder include chronic pain, joint weakness and loss of motion from extreme stiffness. The pain is often reported by patients as an aching or dull pain located over the outer portion of the shoulder. Certain patients may also experience pain in the upper arm.
Diagnosis of Adhesive Capsulitis
The cause of adhesive capsulitis is not fully understood. There is no clear connection to arm dominance, occupation or athletic activity. Because of this, Dr. Ticker must perform a thorough medical review and physical examination before reaching a diagnosis. During the examination, he will carefully move the affected shoulder in various directions to determine pain level and loss of motion. This is considered passive range of motion. Dr. Ticker may then have the patient move the shoulder, known as active range of motion, to compare results. An MRI and/or x-ray may also be performed to rule out other shoulder conditions. Diabetes mellitus may also be a factor.
Treatment of Frozen Shoulder
Frozen shoulder treatment most often begins with non-operative measures to help regain shoulder range of motion and overall function. Conservative treatment includes rest, ice, modified activities, medications, steroid injections and physical therapy.
Dr. Ticker may recommend an arthroscopic surgical procedure if the frozen shoulder symptoms do not lessen over time. Before the surgery itself, he may perform a manipulation procedure while the patient is under anesthesia. The goal of manipulation is to force the affected shoulder to move, causing the scar tissue and joint capsule to stretch or tear. During the surgery, Dr. Ticker will attempt to remove some of the tight tissues around the affected shoulder joint to relieve pressure and increase range of motion.
For additional resources on frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, please contact Dr. Jonathan Ticker, orthopedic shoulder specialist in the greater Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and NYC area.