The pathology of frozen shoulder

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2007 Jul;89(7):928-32. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.89B7.19097.


We treated 22 patients with a diagnosis of primary frozen shoulder resistant to conservative treatment by manipulation under anaesthetic and arthroscopic release of the rotator interval, at a mean time from onset of 15 months (3 to 36). Biopsies were taken from this site and histological and immunocytochemical analysis was performed to identify the types of cell present. The tissue was characterised by the presence of fibroblasts, proliferating fibroblasts and chronic inflammatory cells. The infiltrate of chronic inflammatory cells was predominantly made up of mast cells, with T cells, B cells and macrophages also present. The pathology of frozen shoulder includes a chronic inflammatory response with fibroblastic proliferation which may be immunomodulated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy
  • Biopsy
  • Bursitis / pathology
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / immunology
  • Humans
  • Joint Capsule / pathology*
  • Joint Capsule / surgery
  • Joint Diseases / pathology*
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Orthopedic / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Shoulder Joint / pathology*
  • Treatment Outcome