by Robert S. Dinsmoor
A condition that causes the capsule of connective tissue that encases the shoulder to become stiff, resulting in a limited range of motion. Often called “frozen shoulder,” adhesive capsulitis is more common in women and usually affects people 40 to 70 years of age. It is also more common in people with diabetes (affecting 10% to 20% of them) than it is in the general population (where its frequency is 2% to 5%). The cause of adhesive capsulitis is not known, but it can occur after a period of prolonged immobilization of the shoulder, such as after the arm has been in a sling.
Treatment for adhesive capsulitis usually consists of gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises. A physical therapist can be especially helpful in teaching these exercises. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and, in some cases, corticosteroid injections may be used to relieve pain and inflammation in the shoulder. If the frozen shoulder fails to respond to these treatments, a surgeon can anesthetize a patient and then force the shoulder through its full range of motion. Surgery may also be needed to remove scar tissue and “release” the shoulder. In most cases, people with adhesive capsulitis regain full use of their shoulder.
Last Reviewed on September 21, 2011
Robert S. Dinsmoor is a medical writer and editor based in Massachusetts.
Get the latest arthritis news and the most useful self-management tips delivered to your inbox twice a month! Sign up for our free e-mail newsletter today.
Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.