Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis, is a common condition affecting people generally between the ages of 40–65, especially in people with a history of diabetes, thyroid problems, Parkinson's, or cardiac disease. Patients with frozen shoulder have progressive loss of range of motion and pain with any motion of the affected shoulder.

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, but the anatomy of the shoulder allows for an amazing amount of flexibility. The humeral head, or ball, sits on the glenoid, a very shallow socket. It resembles a golf ball on a tee. Because the socket is so shallow, the shoulder relies on the soft tissue around the shoulder for stability. The labrum, a thickened cartilage layer around the glenoid, and the ligaments and capsule, provide a majority of the stability to the shoulder. The muscles of the rotator cuff and scapula also provide stability.

Our Approach to Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder typically heals on its own, although full recovery can take a long time. A good physical therapy program and, for some patients, ultrasound-guided cortisone injections into the shoulder joint can speed the process. Only a small percentage of patients need surgery to get better.

Our team includes highly trained physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons who specialize in the shoulder. We work together to relieve pain and restore mobility, so patients can return to their normal lives and the activities they enjoy.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Best hospital in Northern California

  • usnews-orthopedics

    One of the nation’s best in orthopedics

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.