Prevalence and risk factors of adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder after breast cancer treatment

Support Care Cancer. 2017 Apr;25(4):1317-1322. doi: 10.1007/s00520-016-3532-4. Epub 2016 Dec 9.


Purpose: The present study investigated the prevalence and risk factors of adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder in breast cancer patients between 13 and 18 months after surgery.

Methods: This study included 271 women who underwent surgery for breast cancer with a postoperative period of 13-18 months. Current adhesive capsulitis was defined as restriction of external rotation and one or more additional directional restrictions with history of shoulder pain. Cumulative adhesive capsulitis was defined as current adhesive capsulitis or a previous history of adhesive capsulitis after breast cancer surgery. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to examine associations between current or cumulative adhesive capsulitis and potential risk factors.

Results: Among the 271 study patients, 28 (10.3%) and 21 (7.7%) had cumulative or current adhesive capsulitis, respectively. The incidences of cumulative and current adhesive capsulitis were higher in those aged 50-59 years (odds ratio [OR], 9.912; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.790-54.880; and OR, 12.395; 95% CI, 1.187-129.444, respectively) and those who underwent mastectomy (OR, 6.805; 95% CI, 1.800-25.733; and OR, 9.645; 95% CI, 2.075-44.829, respectively) or mastectomy with reconstruction (OR, 13.122; 95% CI, 2.488-69.218; and OR, 20.075; 95% CI, 2.873-140.261, respectively).

Conclusions: Adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder is a common problem after breast cancer treatment. An age of 50-59 years and mastectomy are major risk factors for adhesive capsulitis, and breast reconstruction additionally increases the risk. Patients with these risk factors require greater attention for early diagnosis and proper treatment.

Keywords: Adhesive capsulitis; Breast cancer; Mastectomy; Risk factor; Shoulder pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Bursitis / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology*