Treatment of Adhesive Capsulitis of the Shoulder

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2019 Jun 15;27(12):e544-e554. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-17-00606.


Adhesive capsulitis presents clinically as limited, active and passive range of motion caused by the formation of adhesions of the glenohumeral joint capsule. Radiographically, it is thickening of the capsule and rotator interval. The pathology of the disease, and its classification, relates to inflammation and formation of extensive scar tissue. Risk factors include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and previous cervical spine surgery. Nonsurgical management includes physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, calcitonin, ultrasonography-guided hydrodissection, and hyaluronic acid injections. Most patients will see complete resolution of symptoms with nonsurgical management, and there appears to be a role of early corticosteroid injection in shortening the overall duration of symptoms. Surgical intervention, including manipulation under anesthesia, arthroscopic capsular release both limited and circumferential, and the authors' technique are described in this article. Complications include fracture, glenoid and labral injuries, neurapraxia, and rotator cuff pathology. Postoperative care should always include early physical therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Arthroscopy
  • Bursitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Bursitis / etiology
  • Bursitis / pathology
  • Bursitis / therapy*
  • Calcitonin / therapeutic use
  • Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Injections, Intralesional
  • Manipulation, Orthopedic
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Postoperative Care
  • Risk Factors
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Calcitonin