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The main shoulder joint is the ball-and-socket that includes the scapula (shoulder blade) and the top of the humerus (upper arm) bone. The inside capsule of tissue and synovial fluid allows the ball to move freely in the socket. When the capsule tightens and restricts movement, the condition is called frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis. Our team at DOCS Health offers frozen shoulder treatment at our orthopedic clinic in Los Angeles.

Causes and Stages of Adhesive Capsulitis

The cause of frozen shoulder is not always apparent. Over time, the tissue within the shoulder capsule thickens and it becomes tight and stiff. Bands of tissue called adhesions develop that restrict mobility inside the shoulder joint. There are a few possible causes, and immobilization of the shoulder joint due to an injury or surgery is one example. Some medical conditions like diabetes increase the risk for frozen shoulder. When adhesive capsulitis occurs, it usually happens in stages:

  • Freezing – The shoulder becomes stiffer and more painful to move for one or more months
  • Frozen – The shoulder joint is very stiff with little range of motion for several months
  • Thawing – The shoulder joint begins to expand the range of motion and strength are slowly regained over several months

Frozen shoulder is a frustrating condition that can last for years. It begins with aching pain and stiffness in the shoulder and upper arm. When it progresses, it can greatly limit the use of the arm and overall mobility.

Treatment for frozen shoulder is usually physical therapy combined with controlling pain and inflammation. Injection therapy and oral medications may be recommended with exercise to stretch and strengthen the shoulder and arm. When conservative methods of treatment are ineffective, surgery may be recommended. Shoulder arthroscopy and manipulation can be used as a minimally-invasive option to “free” a frozen shoulder.

If you have symptoms of adhesive capsulitis, contact us at DOCS Health. We can schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists to discuss frozen shoulder treatment at our Los Angeles medical center.