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Signs and Symptoms of a Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder is a common cause of shoulder discomfort, stiffness ( limited range of motion ) and pain and discomfort.   Frozen shoulder ( also called adhesive capsulitis ) usually arises with no discernable event ( fall, trauma. etc) but trauma may also cause it.    The symptoms usually include limited range of motion of the shoulder ( elevation and rotation ) as well as pain with activity and at rest.   Differentiating between frozen shoulder and other causes of shoulder pain can sometimes be difficult, however with an evaluation with shoulder expert William Schell, MD will determine the cause of your shoulder pain.

A detailed physical examination is the best way to diagnosis a frozen shoulder and usually an x-ray is performed to exclude shoulder joint pathology ( such as arthritis ).   The typical pain of a frozen shoulder may range from dull, aching to sharp, stabbing.  Limited range of motion is the main physical exam finding with stiffness on both active ( patient initiated motion ) and passive ( physican range of motion testing ) being equal.

The majority of cases improve with nonoperative measures particularly physical therapy and home exercises, prescription anti-inflammatories, and sometimes cortisone injections.  In the unlikely event that nonoperative treatment does not alleviate the condition, arthroscopy surgery may be performed to help resolve a frozen shoulder.

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William Schell, MD

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