The cause of frozen shoulder is usually not known (idiopathic) but at times can be related to trauma, previous surgery and other metabolic causes such as diabetes mellitus. When non-operative measures fail for frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), operative intervention may be considered. This operation usually involves two procedures. These include a shoulder manipulation and a shoulder arthroscopy.

Usually the patient’s arm with be numbed by the anesthesiologist. This is done using a “nerve block” by injecting local anesthetic around the nerves coming out of the neck. The patient is then taken to the operating room and the arm is taken through a range of motion beyond the limits that the tightened capsule will allow. This causes a tearing of the thickened capsule.

After the manipulation, an arthroscopy is done of the shoulder through two small incisions. The shoulder is then inspected and the remainder of the capsule is released using instruments inside the shoulder.

It is imperative that physical therapy begins the day after the surgery or the shoulder may “re-freeze.” More information is available in this downloadable patient information sheet. Frozen Shoulder Patient Information Sheet