Frozen shoulder, medically known as adhesive capsulitis, is characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. Patients seeking treatment for frozen shoulder are in capable hands with Dr. Michael Bercik, a distinguished orthopedic surgeon at Lancaster Orthopedic Group renowned for his expertise in shoulder and elbow ailments. He brings a wealth of experience and advanced training, including international fellowships in France and Australia, and a robust educational background from Georgetown University and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Bercik is known for his patient-centered approach and exceptional skill in orthopedic care.

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen ShoulderFrozen shoulder occurs when the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint becomes tight and thickens, often leading to pain and a notable reduction in the range of motion. The condition typically develops gradually in three stages: the freezing stage, where pain gradually worsens, and the range of motion starts to limit; the frozen stage, where pain may begin to diminish but the shoulder becomes stiffer; and the thawing stage, where the range of motion begins to improve.

Frozen shoulder commonly affects people between 40 and 60 and is more prevalent in women. Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, and heart disease, may be at a higher risk. Prolonged immobility or reduced shoulder mobility, such as after surgery or an arm fracture, can also lead to frozen shoulder.

The primary symptoms include:

  • A dull or aching pain in the shoulder.
  • Limited movement of the shoulder.
  • Difficulty with activities involving overhead movements.
  • Pain that worsens at night, often disturbing sleep.

Non-Surgical Treatment of Frozen Shoulder

Diagnosing frozen shoulder involves a physical exam and possibly imaging tests like X-rays or MRI to rule out other conditions. Treatment focuses on controlling pain and restoring motion and function. Non-surgical treatment options typically include anti-inflammatory medications,  physical therapy treatment, and corticosteroid injections.

Surgical Treatment of Frozen Shoulder

Surgical options for frozen shoulder are typically considered when conservative treatments fail to provide sufficient relief. There are two primary surgical techniques used to treat frozen shoulder:

  • Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA):
    • In this procedure, the patient is put under general anesthesia to relax the muscles.
    • The surgeon then manually moves the arm at the shoulder joint to stretch or break up the adhesions (scar tissue) that are limiting motion.
    • MUA is often effective in rapidly increasing the range of motion, but it may involve some risk of joint or ligament injury due to the forceful nature of the procedure.
    • It is usually followed by an immediate start of physical therapy to maintain the gained range of motion.
  • Arthroscopic Capsular Release:
    • This is a minimally invasive surgery where small incisions are made around the shoulder.
    • An arthroscope (a small camera) is inserted to guide the surgeon.
    • Specialized instruments cut through the tight portions of the joint capsule (the tissue surrounding the shoulder joint), releasing the tension and freeing up movement.
    • Compared to MUA, arthroscopic capsular release provides a more controlled approach to address the adhesions and is less likely to cause injury to the joint.
    • Post-operative physical therapy is crucial for recovery, focusing on maintaining and gradually improving the shoulder’s range of motion and strength.

Let’s Work Together

Frozen shoulder can be challenging, but with the right approach, it can be effectively managed. Dr. Michael Bercik is committed to providing the highest quality of care to help patients navigate this condition and return to a pain-free, active lifestyle.

If you are struggling with frozen shoulder, don’t hesitate to request an appointment or call 717.560.4200.