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Frozen Shoulder

What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a condition that results in limited shoulder movement. Often patients can have a severe level of discomfort and limited shoulder movement, particularly with the end ranges of motion. This develops when the soft tissue of the shoulder joint thickens, and contracts leading to the formation of scar tissue. The scar tissue then leads to a loss of shoulder function.

There are two types:

  • Primary adhesive capsulitis
    • There is a gradual loss of shoulder motion for no apparent reason. This is commonly associated with inflammatory diseases, changes in hormone levels or the immune system, or in patients with diabetes or thyroid disease.
  • Secondary adhesive capsulitis
    • This type of condition forms after a “known cause” such as shoulder injury, fracture, or other previous surgery.

What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder?

Patients with frozen shoulders will have difficulty moving their shoulder, shoulder weakness, and pain.

How is frozen shoulder diagnosed?

Dr. Zahab Ahsan and Sincer Jacob have extensive experience in diagnosing frozen shoulder conditions. You can expect to have a physical examination that will test shoulder range of motion. Although frozen shoulder is typically a clinical diagnosis, X-ray and an MRI may be necessary to assess the extent of the disease and ensure there are no other conditions such as a fracture, rotator cuff injury, or shoulder osteoarthritis.

What is the treatment?

We think broadly in our treatment approach (non-surgical vs. surgical).


Patients with frozen shoulder will have a customized treatment plan that will likely entail anti-inflammatory medications and a physical therapy program. A great physical therapy program is essential to excellent outcomes. In most cases, a corticosteroid and ketorolac injection will provide excellent benefit to accelerate the recovery process. Placement of the steroid medication within the glenohumeral joint is critical for reversing the process of frozen shoulder. Dr. Zahab Ahsan and Sincer Jacob may perform these injections under ultrasound guidance to ensure proper placement of the medication giving you the best chance of success. If non-surgical treatment is ineffective then surgery may be indicated.


In more severe cases a customized surgical approach may be recommended by Dr. Zahab Ahsan and Sincer Jacob. This decision is reached based on patient goals. Dr. Zahab Ahsan commonly performs procedures to release scar tissue, and improve patient function. Following surgery, aggressive physical therapy is critical to restoring normal shoulder motion and function.
If you have any questions regarding frozen shoulder, please contact Dr. Zahab Ahsan or Sincer Jacob.

At a Glance

Dr. Zahab Ahsan

  • Board Certified & Fellowship-Trained Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Former Assistant Team Physician for the NY Knicks
  • Castle Connolly Top Doctor
  • Team Physician for Chicago Fire FC
  • Learn more
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