A stiff shoulder can be a debilitating and troublesome condition in patients living in the greater geo communities. Shoulder stiffness is typically associated with an underlying joint injury or condition and causes loss of shoulder mobility and overall joint function. As a shoulder specialist and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Ticker is highly trained and experienced at diagnosing and treating the numerous conditions that can cause a stiff shoulder and loss of mobility.

There are numerous causes of a stiff shoulder. The two most common causes are frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, and shoulder arthritis. Frozen shoulder progresses through three stages and causes patients to experience chronic pain, stiffness and decreased shoulder mobility. Shoulder arthritis occurs when the joint’s articular cartilage begins to wear down and expose the underlying bone. Certain patients with severe cases of arthritis may also develop bone spurs that often cause increased pain and stiffness.

Patients may also experience shoulder stiffness and decreased shoulder mobility after an injury, post-surgery or from another shoulder condition such as tendonitis, bursitis, calcific tendonitis or a rotator cuff tear.

Symptoms Associated with a Stiff Shoulder

Almost all patients with a stiff shoulder also report pain, loss of shoulder mobility and decreased overall joint function. The majority of patients experience difficulty sleeping, especially on the affected side, and must sleep in a recliner for restful sleep. Pain associated with shoulder stiffness is often intensified at night and during arm movements.

Diagnosis of a Stiff Shoulder

Dr. Ticker will perform a thorough medical review and physical examination to determine the true cause of shoulder stiffness and loss of shoulder mobility. During the examination, he will carefully move the joint through a series of motions to assess the level of stiffness, pain and function. He will also perform an MRI scan and a series of x-rays to view the stiff shoulder in great detail. With the help of diagnostic testing, Dr. Ticker will gain a better understanding of the joint’s overall health and will be able to reach a firm diagnosis.

Treatment of a Stiff Shoulder


Patients suffering from a stiff shoulder often undergo non-surgical treatment as the initial approach. Dr. Ticker may prescribe a combination of ice, rest, modified activities, medications and a detailed physical therapy program. The physical therapy and rehabilitation program will include a series of stretching and strengthening exercises to help regain shoulder mobility and function.


If non-operative measures fail to alleviate shoulder stiffness or if Dr. Ticker observes a severe injury during his diagnosis, an arthroscopic shoulder surgery may be recommended. The exact surgical procedure performed by Dr. Ticker depends on type of injury, severity of injury, patient’s age and patient’s physical activity level.

If frozen shoulder is the cause of the stiff shoulder, Dr. Ticker may perform a capsular release and then a manipulation. The capsular release is designed to release and remove the thickened capsular scar tissue in a controlled manner.  A manipulation is then used to disrupt any residual scar tissue by moving the affected shoulder, causing the scar tissue and abnormal joint capsule to stretch or tear.  Dr. Ticker will remove some of the tight tissues around the affected shoulder joint to relieve pressure and increase range of motion. If shoulder arthritis is the underlying cause, Dr. Ticker will perform a surgery to trim out the inflamed synovial lining tissue and remove pieces of the degenerated cartilage, as well as release a portion of the thickened capsular scar tissue.

If you are experiencing a stiff shoulder with loss of shoulder mobility, you are encouraged to contact Dr. Jonathan Ticker, orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist serving the greater geo communities.