Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder can be an extremely painful condition that can arise without any injury.   It can sometimes arise after a fall or after surgery to the shoulder. The condition is more common in patients who are diagnosed with diabetes or thyroid problems.  The inner lining of the shoulder joint becomes thickened, inflamed and reduces in length. In some cases, it is not fully understood why the patient has developed the condition. Chris Smith is actively involved in research into this.

The condition can cause pain which is usually felt in the upper arm, and this can prevent patients from having a full nights sleep.  The shoulder becomes very restricted in its movement, particularly when trying to reach around their back.  The condition can usually be diagnosed via a specialist shoulder examination.

Frozen shoulder can resolve without medical intervention, but may take months or years to do so.  If the pain and lack of movement is severe, then two interventions can be considered.  Hydro-dilatation can be performed under local anaesthetic by a specialist shoulder radiologist.  In this procedure the lining of the shoulder is ruptured using the pressure of sterile water. This can lead to an increase in the range of movement of the shoulder and can give very good pain relief (click to read more about hydro-dilataion).

The alternative is a small day-case keyhole operation that allows the thickened capsule to be released under the guidance of a camera.  This is called an arthroscopic capsular release and can also provide very good pain relief and increase the range of movement.  The ExeterShoulder surgeons each perform about 35 of these procedures every year.  It usually takes between 1 and 6 weeks to recover from the operation (click to read more about recovery).

Click hear to read more about a frozen shoulder release if you are due to have the operation.