Shoulder Injuries – Adhesive Capsulitis

Last week we addressed a letter from Jana who sustained a shoulder injury after falling when ice skating. We discussed that her condition may be a shoulder bursitis, adhesive capsulitis, or a rotator cuff syndrome. Last week we discussed the pathology of a shoulder bursitis. This week we will be discussing adhesive capsulitis.

Adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder is a condition in which a patient has severe limitation in the shoulder joint. This condition may come from a fall, as in the case of Jana, or could come on for no apparent cause and effect relationship.

When a patient has this condition, their complaint is more of a restriction verses pain. That is, the doctor or patient is unable to raise their extremity due to adhesions in the joint capsule that limits their mobility. This is in contrast to a shoulder bursitis and rotator cuff syndrome.

With a shoulder bursitis and rotator cuff syndrome, the doctor may be able to raise a patient’s arm during the examination, even though it may be painful to the patient. A frozen shoulder could take weeks to months to rehabilitate, even with the best of treatment. When a patient has this condition, identifying and treating this early on could greatly shorten the duration of the impairment. Next week we will be discussing rotator cuff syndromes.


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