Frozen Shoulder Adhesive Capsulitis

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More common in adults between the ages of 40 and 60, particularly women, frozen shoulder or “adhesive capsulitis,” is a condition characterized by pain and loss of motion in the shoulder joint. Not only can frozen shoulder adhesive capsulitis cause pain and discomfort, it can inhibit the active mountain lifestyle residents enjoy.

To keep patients from being immobilized and in pain as a result of frozen shoulder adhesive capsulitis, our OrthoAspen team of elite-grade orthopedic specialists will strive to find the appropriate treatment solution to safely and effectively treat the condition. Our goal is to get our patients back to the life they enjoy.

Causes & Symptoms

Frozen shoulder occurs as a result of inflammation of the ligaments that hold the shoulder bones to each other. The shoulder capsule becomes thick, tight and stiff bands of tissue called adhesions may develop. Individuals with a previous shoulder injury, shoulder surgeries or a shoulder immobilized for a longer period are more at risk for frozen shoulder. Individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease and cardiac diseases are also more at risk of developing adhesive capsulitis.

Symptoms of frozen shoulder include:

  • Dullness or aching in the shoulder
  • Accentuated pain from movement of the arm (especially at the beginning of the development of the condition)
  • Radiating pain from the outer shoulder and/or the upper arm
  • Stiffness and limited mobility of the shoulder

To properly diagnose frozen shoulder adhesive capsulitis, your OrthoAspen physician will conduct a full examination, go over any current symptoms and conduct radiological diagnostic procedures such as X-rays or MRI scans.


Since it’s one of our main directives to get our patients back in motion, OrthoAspen physicians will try to implement conservative frozen shoulder treatment solutions whenever possible, including:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections for pain
  • Physical therapy to improve range of motion
  • Heat to reduce pain (when appropriate)

If an adhesive capsulitis diagnosis requires surgery, your OrthoAspen surgeon will likely recommend shoulder arthroscopy. During surgery, the scar tissue will be removed and tight ligaments, if any, will be dissected. Following surgery, physical therapy will be advised to bring back full range of motion and strengthen the muscles.

If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing frozen shoulder adhesive capsulitis, we encourage you to contact our OrthoAspen experts here, or call us now at 970-544-1289.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400