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Adhesive Capsulitis

What is adhesive capsulitis?

Adhesive capsulitis, commonly known as frozen shoulder, is a condition characterized by pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. The connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint, known as the shoulder capsule, thickens and becomes tight, restricting movement and causing discomfort. This condition typically progresses through stages, including freezing, frozen, and thawing, with symptoms worsening before gradually improving.

What are the causes of adhesive capsulitis?

The exact cause of adhesive capsulitis is not fully understood, but several factors may contribute to its development:

  • Injury or Trauma: Previous shoulder injuries, surgeries, or trauma can increase the risk of developing adhesive capsulitis.
  • Immobility: Prolonged immobilization of the shoulder joint, such as wearing a sling or recovering from surgery, can lead to stiffness and adhesion formation.
  • Systemic Diseases: Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, and cardiovascular disease have been associated with an increased risk of adhesive capsulitis.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: Conditions that involve inflammation of the joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may also predispose individuals to develop adhesive capsulitis.

What are the symptoms of adhesive capsulitis?

Symptoms of adhesive capsulitis often develop gradually and may include:

  • Persistent shoulder pain, especially at rest or during movement.
  • Gradual loss of shoulder mobility, making it difficult to perform daily activities such as reaching overhead or behind the back.
  • Stiffness and tightness in the shoulder joint, particularly in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

How is adhesive capsulitis diagnosed?

Diagnosing adhesive capsulitis typically involves a thorough physical examination and medical history review by a qualified healthcare professional, such as Dr. Shane J. Nho. Imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans may be ordered to rule out other potential causes of shoulder pain and assess the extent of tissue involvement.

At a Glance

Dr. Shane Nho

  • Board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon
  • Team Physician for Chicago Bulls, White Sox, Steel
  • Performs more than 700 procedures each year
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