Frozen shoulder

Who does this affect?

Frozen shoulder is a common, under-diagnosed condition, causing a very painful and stiff shoulder. Without treatment, it can be disabling for one to two years. Prompt treatment, often involving keyhole surgery, results in a much quicker and more complete recovery. Who does it affect? It is usually seen in middle years, and is more common in women. It is usually a reaction to painful conditions or a consequence of an injury.


In most people, the exact cause is not known, although there is a genetic factor. It is common in diabetics and those with Dupuytren's contracture. Frozen shoulder results in the lining of the shoulder joint (capsule) becoming very thickened and inflamed. Some people have a mild form whilst others have it more severely. The main symptoms are pain and stiffness.


A careful examination and X-ray, in order to rule out other causes, is usually all that is necessary.

Non-surgical treatment

Initially, patients will receive a steroid injection and physiotherapy.

Surgical treatment

If non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful, manipulation under anaesthesia may be tried. Increasingly, surgery to release the thickened lining is recommended.

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