This diagnosis is one that I see in some patients who have had a painful shoulder for a long time, and that have either had no treatment or the treatment prescribed has not been effective enough. These patients have pain most of the time which is made worse by use.
Due to the inability to move the joint without to pain, these individuals eventually have lost motion of the shoulder and lost full use of the arm. Simple activities like getting dressed or bathing are difficult and painful to perform. The lay term for this condition is called “frozen shoulder”; the medical term is called “adhesive capsulitis.”
The treatment for this condition can be prolonged and difficult. It generally consists of the same treatment methods described above. It is paramount that the patient is engaged in an aggressive, supervised physical therapy program to restore motion, as well as a vigorous home therapy program. Use of NSAIDS and even an occasional corticosteroid injection can be also helpful. All of the treatments are aimed at regaining motion and reducing pain.
Occasionally, it is necessary to arthroscopically release the stiff, scarred tissue and then move the shoulder through a complete range of motion to break up adhesions and to stretch the muscles. This has not been necessary very often in my experience.