Frozen shoulder

2nd June 2016 by NASGP

Frozen shoulder

There’s no cure, but there are plenty of treatment options to try. At least frozen shoulder doesn’t last forever.

Frozen shoulder is one condition I dread diagnosing. Not only will your patient have to suffer a painful, debilitating condition for at least 12-18 months but it’s also a pain (literally!) to treat. The DTB have recently published a review on frozen shoulder (DTB 2015;53:90). Despite no new magic cures, it provides a useful summary of management strategies.

What is frozen shoulder?

Unfortunately there is no standard definition; whilst the term adhesive capsulitis is sometimes used interchangeably with frozen shoulder there is actually no evidence of adhesions within the shoulder capsule.

  • Estimated prevalence is 8-10% working age people, most commonly age 40-60y.
  • Commoner in diabetics, where it lasts longer and is often treatment resistant.
  • More commonly seen after upper limb injury.
  • Aetiology is unknown but appears to involve an inflammatory process followed by fibrosis.

Natural history

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