Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy

, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 1048–1054 | Cite as

Idiopathic adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder: a review

  • S. Brue
  • A. Valentin
  • M. Forssblad
  • S. Werner
  • C. Mikkelsen
  • G. Cerulli


Many terms have been used to describe what has been called idiopathic adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. This pathology is defined as a self-limiting condition of unknown etiology. The natural history is 18–30 months even though a high-percentage of patient present impaired range of movement even at long-term follow-up. The diagnosis is mainly clinical and no significant changes are normally present at MRI or CT scan. Several treatment options have been tried over the years with different approaches and results.


Shoulder joint Idiopathic adhesive capsulitis Frozen shoulder Stiff shoulder Shoulder pain 


  1. 1.
    Abdullah Omari FRCS, Bunker TD (2001) Open surgical release for frozen shoulder: surgical findings and results of the release. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 10(4):353–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Andren L, Lundberg BJ (1965) Treatment of rigid shoulder by joint distension during arthrography. Acta Orthop Scand 36:45–53PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Arslan S, Celiker R (2001) Comparison of the efficacy of local corticosteroid injection and physical therapy for the treatment of adhesive capsulitis. Rheumatol Int 21(1):20–23PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Beaufils P, Prevot N, Boyer T, Allard M, Dorfmann H, Frank A, Kelberine F, Kempf JF, Mole D, Walch G, and the French Society for Arthroscopy (1999) Arthroscopic release of the glenohumeral joint in shoulder stiffness: a review of 26 cases. Arthroscopy 15(1):49–55PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Buchbinder R, Green S (2004) Effect of arthrographic shoulder joint distension with saline and corticosteroid for adhesive capsulitis. Br J Sports Med 38:384–385PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bulgen DY, Binder AI, Hazleman BL et al (1984) Frozen shoulder: prospective clinical study with an evaluation of three treatment regimens. Ann Rheum Dis 43:353–360PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bulgen DY, Binder A, Hazelman BL et al (1982) Immunological studies in frozen shoulder. J Rheumatol 9(6):893–898PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bulgen DY, Hazelman BL, Voak D (1976) HLA B27 and frozen shoulder. Lancet 1(7968):1042–1044PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bunker TD, Anthony PP (1995) The pathology of frozen shoulder. JBJS 77B:677–683Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bunker TD, Reilly J, Baird KS, Hamblen DL (2000) Expression of growth factors, cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases in frozen shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg Br 82(5):768–773PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Castellarin G, Ricci M, Vedovi E, Vecchini E, Sembenini P, Marangon A, Vangelista A (2004) Manipulation and arthroscopy under general anesthesia and early rehabilitative treatment for frozen shoulders. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 85(8):1236–1240PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Codman EA (1934) The shoulder. Rupture of the supraspinatus tendon and other lesions in or about the subacromial bursa. Boston, privately printed, pp 216–224Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Constant CR, Murley AHG (1987) A clinical method of functional assessment of the shoulder. Clin Orthop 241:160–164Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Dacre JE, Beeney N, Scott DL (1989) Injections and physiotherapy for the painful stiff shoulder. Ann Rheum Dis 48:322–325PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Dahan TH, Fortin L, Pelletier M, Petit M, Vadeboncoeur R, Suissa S (2000) Double blind randomized clinical trial examining the efficacy of bupivacaine suprascapular nerve blocks in frozen shoulder. J Rheumatol 27(6):1464–1469PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Dierks RL, Stevens M (2004) Gentle thawing of frozen shoulder: a prospective study of supervised neglect versus intensive physical therapy in seventy-seven patients with frozen shoulder syndrome followed up for two years. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 13(5):499–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Dodenhoff RM, Levy O, Wilson A, Copeland SA (2000) Manipulation under anaesthesia for primary frozen shoulder: effect on early recovery and return to activity. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 9(1):23–26PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ekelund AL, Rydell N (1992) Combination treatment for adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. Clin Orthop 282:105–109PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Farrell CM, Sperling JW, Cofield RH (2005) Manipulation for frozen shoulder: long-term results. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 14(5):480–484PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fouquet B, Griffoul I, Borie MJ, Roger R, Bonnin B, Metivier JC, Pellieux S (2006) Adhesive capsulitis: evaluation of a treatment coupling capsular distension and intensive rehabilitation. Ann Readapt Med Phys 49(2):68–74 (Epub 27 September 2005)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Gavant ML, Rizk TE, Gold RE, Flick PA (1994) Distention arthrography in the treatment of adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. J Vasc Interv Radiol 5(2):305–308PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ginn KA, Cohen ML (2005) Exercise therapy for shoulder pain aimed at restoring neuromuscular control: a randomized comparative clinical trial. J Rehabil Med 37(2):115–122PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Grey RG (1978) The natural history of “idiopathic” frozen shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg Am 60(4):564PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Griggs SM, Ahn A, Green A (2000) Idiopathic adhesive capsulitis. A prospective functional outcome study of non-operative treatment. J Bone Joint Surg Am 82(10):1398PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hakim AJ, Cherkas LF, Spector TD, MacGregor AJ (2003) Genetic associations between frozen shoulder and tennis elbow: a female twin study. Rheumatology 42:739–742PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hannafin JA, Chiaia TA (2000) Adhesive capsulitis: a treatment approach. Clin Orthop 372:95–109PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hill JJ Jr, Bogumill H (1988) Manipulation in the treatment of frozen shoulder. Orthopedics 11:1255–1260PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Holloway BG, Schenk T, Williams GR et al (2001) Arthroscopic capsular release for the treatment of refractory postoperative or post-fracture shoulder stiffness. J Bone Joint Surg Am 83(11):1682–1687PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Jones DS, Chattopadhyay C (1999) Suprascapular nerve block for the treatment of frozen shoulder in primary care: a randomized trial. Br J Gen Pract 49(438):39–41PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Karatas GK, Meray J (2002) Suprascapular nerve block for pain relief in adhesive capsulitis: comparison of 2 different techniques. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 83(5):593–597PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Lefevre-Colau MM, Drape JL et al (2005) Magnetic resonance imaging of shoulders with idiopathic adhesive capsulitis: reliability of measures. Eur Radiol (E-pub)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Leppala J, Kannus P, Sievanen H et al (1998) Adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder produces bone loss in the affected humerus but long-term bony recovery is good. Bone 22:691–694PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Loew M, Heichel T, Lehner B (2005) Intraarticular lesions in primary frozen shoulder after manipulation under general anesthesia. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 14:16–21PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Lundberg J (1969) The frozen shoulder. Clinical and radiographical observations. The effect of manipulation under general anesthesia. Structure and glycosaminoglycan content of the joint capsule. Local bone metabolism. Acta Orthop Scand 119:1–59Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Maricar NN, Chok B (1999) A comparison of the effect of manual therapy with exercise therapy and exercise therapy alone for stiff shoulders. Physiother Singap 2:99–104Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Mengiardi B, Christian W, Pfirrmann A, Gerber C, Hodler J, Zanetti M (2004) Frozen shoulder: MR arthrographic findings. Radiology 233(2):486–492 (Epub 2004 Sep 9)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Miller MD, Wirth MA, Rockwood CA Jr (1996) Thawing the frozen shoulder: the “patient” patient. Orthopoedics 19(10):849–853Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Neviaser JS (1945) Adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. Study of pathological findings in periarthritis of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg 27A:211–222Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Neviaser RJ, Neviaser TJ (1987) The frozen shoulder. Diagnosis and management. Clin Orthop 223:59–64Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Nicholson GG (1985) The effect of passive joint mobilization on pain and hypomobility associated with adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 6:238–246PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Olgivie-Harris DJ, Biggs DJ, Fitsialos DP et al (1995) The resistant frozen shoulder. Manipulation versus arthroscopic release. Clin Orthop 319:238–248Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Ozaki J, Yoshiyuki N, Sakurai G et al (1989) Recalcitrant chronic adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. JBJS 71-A:1511–1515Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Piotte F, gravel D, Moffet H et al (2004) Effects of repeated distension arthrographies combined with a home exercise program among adults with idiopathic adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 83(7):537–546PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Reeves B (1975) The natural history of frozen shoulder syndrome. Scand J Rheumatol. 4:193–196PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Reichmister JP, Friedman SL (1999) Long-term functional results after manipulation of the frozen shoulder. Md Med J 48(1):7–11PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Ricci M, Castellarin G, Vecchini E, Sembenini P, Vangelista A (2004) Adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder: arthroscopic and rehabilitative treatment. GIOT 30:60–64Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Rizk TE, Christopher RP, Pinais RS (1983) Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder): a new approach to its management. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 64:29–33PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Rizk TE, Pinals RS, Talavier AS (1991) Corticosteroid injections in adhesive capsulitis: investigation of their value and site. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 72(1):20–22PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Rodeo SA, Hannafin JA, Tom J et al (1997) Immunolocalization of cytokines and their receptors in adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. J Orthop Res 15(3):427–436PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Ryans I et al (2005) A randomized controlled trial of intra-articular triamcinolone and/or physiotherapy in shoulder capsulitis. Rheumatology (Oxford) 44(4):529–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Segmuller HE, taylor DE, Hogan CS, Saies AD, Hayes MG (1995) Arthroscopic treatment of adhesive capsulitis. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 4(6):403–408PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Shaffer B, Tibone JE, Kerlane RK (1992) Frozen shoulder. A long term follow up. J Bone Joint Surg Am 74(5):738–746PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Waldburger M, Meier JL, Gobelet C (1992) The frozen shoulder: diagnosis and treatment. Prospective study of 50 cases of adhesive capsulitis. Clin Rheumatol 11(3):20–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Warner JJ, Allen A, Marks PH et al (1996) Arthroscopic release for chronic, refractory adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg Am 78(12):1808–1816PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Warner JJ (1997) Frozen shoulder: diagnosis and management. J Am Acad Orthop Surg 5(3):130–140PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Yamaguchi K, Sethi N, Bauer GS (2002) Postoperative pain control following arthroscopic release of adhesive capsulitis: a short-term retrospective review study of the use of an intra-articular pain catheter. Arthroscopy 18(4):359–365PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Zuckerman JD, Cuomo F, Rokito S (1994) Definition and classification of frozen shoulder [abstract]. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 3:S5Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Brue
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Valentin
    • 1
  • M. Forssblad
    • 1
  • S. Werner
    • 1
  • C. Mikkelsen
    • 1
  • G. Cerulli
    • 2
  1. 1.Capio Artro ClinicStockholm Sport Trauma Research CenterStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Orthopaedic and Traumatologic DepartmentUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly

Personalised recommendations