Adhesive capsulitis

February 2017


Definition


Adhesive capsulitis, also known as Frozen Shoulder is a mild disorder of the shoulder joint. It is caused by the retraction of the flexible membrane (joint capsule) that covers the joint and allows for shoulder movements (lowering, rotation, abduction, adduction, elevation, raising, bending). Incapacitating only for a limited time, adhesive capsulitis heals spontaneously on its own within 18 months in most cases.

Symptoms


Adhesive capsulitis occurs in three stages that are more or less intertwined depending on the evolution of the disorder:
  • permanent shoulder pain, most intense during the night and thus disturbing sleep quality;
  • joint stiffness that prevents many movements. As the stiffness increases, the pain subsides;
  • loss of stiffness and recurrence of shoulder mobility.

There is a spontaneous recovery in about 18 months, sometimes with the persistence of slight stiffness.

Diagnosis


The painful phase that worsens during the night can sometimes point to tendinitis, but the loss of shoulder mobility is then used to underline a diagnosis of adhesive capsulitis. Blood tests and X-rays are usually prescribed without needing further investigation.

Treatment


Painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs and injections are sometimes prescribed for adhesive capsulitis. Physiotherapy and immersion in hot water can provide good results during the evolutionary phase of the disease but also during the period of rehabilitation. The use of smooth movements during sessions prevents muscle atrophy due to the immobilization of the shoulder that a patient will tend to impose spontaneously upon himself. Treatment only in very rare cases ends in surgery. This is not recommended because it can cause the adhesive capsulitis to degrade.

Prevention


No type of prevention is medically recommended at present; no external cause has been identified as being responsible for recurrent adhesive capsulitis.

Related

Original article published by . Translated by Jeff. Latest update on June 10, 2013 at 01:55 PM by Jeff.
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