Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Multimedia

Most frozen shoulder treatment involves controlling shoulder pain and preserving as much range of motion in the shoulder as possible.

Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with frozen shoulder. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Therapy

A physical therapist can teach you range-of-motion exercises to help recover as much mobility in your shoulder as possible. Your commitment to doing these exercises is important to optimize recovery of your mobility.

Surgical and other procedures

Most frozen shoulders get better on their own within 12 to 18 months. For persistent symptoms, your doctor may suggest:

  • Steroid injections. Injecting corticosteroids into your shoulder joint may help decrease pain and improve shoulder mobility, especially in the early stages of the process.
  • Joint distension. Injecting sterile water into the joint capsule can help stretch the tissue and make it easier to move the joint.
  • Shoulder manipulation. In this procedure, you receive a general anesthetic, so you'll be unconscious and feel no pain. Then the doctor moves your shoulder joint in different directions, to help loosen the tightened tissue.
  • Surgery. Surgery for frozen shoulder is rare, but if nothing else has helped, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove scar tissue and adhesions from inside your shoulder joint. Doctors usually perform this surgery with lighted, tubular instruments inserted through small incisions around your joint (arthroscopically).
March 10, 2015

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