• Adhesive Capsulitis—Arthroscopic Surgery

    (Frozen Shoulder—Arthroscopic Surgery)


    Adhesive capsulitis is a tightening in the shoulder joint. It decreases the range of motion in the shoulder and causes pain. This condition is also known as frozen shoulder . It is caused by tightening of the soft tissue and formation of scar tissue.
    During this arthroscopic surgery, the doctor cuts and removes scar tissue around the shoulder. The goal of the procedure is to improve range-of-motion by breaking up scar tissue
    Frozen Shoulder
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    Reasons for Procedure

    This procedure is done to:
    • Relieve pain
    • Restore range of motion in the shoulder joint
    • Break up scar tissue

    Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
    • Bleeding
    • Infection
    • Pain
    • Nerve injury
    • Damage to soft tissue
    • Instability or stiffness in joint
    • Fracture
    • Reaction to anesthesia used
    Factors that may increase your risk of complications:

    What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure

    Your doctor may do the following:
    Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
    Leading up to the procedure:
    • Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital, and for help at home after the procedure.
    • The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
    • If told to do so by your doctor, on the day of the surgery, shower using a special antibacterial soap. Do not use deodorant.


    General anesthesia will most likely be used. You will be asleep during the procedure.

    Description of the Procedure

    Three small incisions will be made in your shoulder. A special tool called an arthroscope will be inserted. An arthroscope is a flexible tube with a light at the end and a camera attached. This will allow the doctor to view the inside of the shoulder on a screen. Tiny instruments will be inserted into the other incisions. The doctor will then cut and remove scar tissue. The incisions will be closed with stitches.

    Immediately After Procedure

    You will be taken to a recovery room after surgery. You will be monitored for any adverse reactions to surgery or anesthesia.

    How Long Will It Take

    About 1-½ to 2 hours

    How Much Will It Hurt?

    Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

    Average Hospital Stay

    If there are no complications, it may be possible to leave the hospital on the same day. Talk to your doctor to see if this is an option in your case.

    Post-procedure Care

    During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
    • Washing their hands
    • Wearing gloves or masks
    • Keeping your incisions covered
    There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
    • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
    • Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
    • Not allowing others to touch your incisions
    Your shoulder will be sore for a few weeks. It can take 3-6 months to fully recover.
    When you return home, you may be asked to do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
    • Use a sling if told to do so by your doctor. You may not need to use one, because it can cause stiffness.
    • Work with a physical therapist at home to focus on range-of-motion exercises.

    Call Your Doctor

    It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
    • Signs of infections, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision sites
    • Cough, trouble breathing, or chest pain
    • Severe nausea or vomiting
    • Pain becomes worse or swelling increases
    • Tingling or numbness that will not go away, especially in arms and hands
    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


    Ortho Info— American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://www.orthoinfo.org

    Sports Med—American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.sportsmed.org


    Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org

    Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org


    Adhesive capsulitis of shoulder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 17, 2014. Accessed December 17, 2014.

    Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder). Palo Alto Medical Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pamf.org/sports/king/adhesive%5Fcaps.html. Accessed December 17, 2014.

    Ewald A. Adhesive capsulitis: A review. Am Fam Physician. 2011;83(4):417-422.

    Examination under anesthesia. University of Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.orthop.washington.edu/?q=patient-care/articles/shoulder/examination-under-anesthesia.html. Updated February 4, 2013. Accessed December 17, 2014.

    Frozen shoulder. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00071. Updated January 2011. Accessed December 17, 2014.

    Shoulder arthroscopy. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00589. April 2011. Accessed December 17, 2014

    Warner JP. Frozen shoulder: Diagnosis and management. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 1997;5:130-140.

    Shoulder surgery. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00066. Updated August 2009. Accessed December 17, 2014.

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