Adhesive Capsulitis, commonly known as frozen shoulder, is a condition in which your shoulder literally just freezes. The joint becomes so stiff that it becomes impossible to perform normal actions such as pulling on a t shirt or lifting an object. It is an extremely painful condition that can last for years if it is not treated in time. It has been seen to occur mainly in the arm that is used less frequently, and is commonly seen in people who have diabetes.

How Adhesive capsulitis is caused

Adhesive capsulitis

The exact reason why the condition develops is not known. It tends to occur if the shoulder has been in disuse for prolonged periods of time. It also tends to be linked to the following medical conditions:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cardiac disease or surgery
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes

Symptoms of Adhesive capsulitis

Symptoms of Adhesive capsulitis

Adhesive capsulitis occurs in three stages and in each of these phases different symptoms may manifest:


In this stage, the individual first notice extreme pain in the shoulder. During this time, there is a likelihood that they lose the ability to move their shoulder normally.


In this stage, the individual suffers from very little pain, but they are not able to move their shoulder normally.


In this final stage, the individual may be able to move their shoulder again but may feel weakness in the arm as they have not used the shoulder for a long time.

Diagnosis of Adhesive capsulitis

A San Diego pain management clinic would be able to tell you if you are suffering from this condition. Common indications of Adhesive capsulitis are the inability to perform certain activities such as:

  • Moving your arm above shoulder height
  • Throwing a ball
  • Reach for an object with a rapid motion
  • Move your arm behind your back
  • Move your arm to the side and then to the back
  • Sleep on one side of the body

The San Diego pain management clinic may prescribe some diagnostic tests to rule out the presence of other conditions. These tests may include an MRI scan or an X ray. Neither of these tests can be used to establish the presence of a frozen shoulder. The best way to determine if the patient has Adhesive capsulitis is by carrying out a double contrast shoulder arthrography.

Another way of determining if you have Adhesive capsulitis is to perform specific shoulder movements, as there is a very distinct pattern to the stiffness. This is important to rule out the presence of rotator cuff injury.


Adhesive capsulitis occurs for unknown reasons but can be prevented. If you are not using your shoulder because of an injury, make sure that you move your shoulder to prevent any stiffness that can lead to a frozen shoulder. A physiotherapist at a San Diego pain management clinic can help assign certain activities that you can perform to prevent this from happening. This is highly recommended if you have any of the conditions we listed above that could put you at greater risk of developing a frozen shoulder condition.