What is frozen shoulder surgery?

Frozen shoulder surgery, also known as capsular release surgery, is a specialized type of surgery on your shoulder. Your shoulder has a lot of connective tissue surrounding it. This is the capsule. Inflammation in this tissue causes pain and scarring. Over time, this leads to thickness that keeps you from being able to move your shoulder as much as you should.

Capsular release surgery removes the scar tissue and cuts away any tissue preventing your movement. The result is that you feel pain relief and regain full range of motion.

What to expect from frozen shoulder surgery

Capsular release surgery is an arthroscopic surgery. Your doctor does it by making small incisions around your shoulder. The doctor inserts a scope with a camera into one of the cuts so they can see the joint. This reduces your recovery time because the doctor doesn't have to make a large incision in your shoulder.

The doctor performs the surgery under local or general anesthesia. That means you may be fully asleep during the surgery. Or, you may take medications that help you forget the surgery. You lie on the table so that the doctor can easily see the back of your shoulder. The doctor makes three small cuts for the camera and other tools.

Frozen shoulder surgery uses a tool to cut and heat the tissue to minimize bleeding. Once your shoulder is free, the doctor removes the instruments and stitches the incisions.

Afterward, you receive medication to manage the pain. You get instructions for exercises to help restore your full range of motion. Regular exercise promotes healing and can help you get back to normal activities sooner. You can expect to see full recovery within three to six weeks after surgery.

Common conditions requiring frozen shoulder surgery

Capsular release surgery often treats frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis. It involves pain and stiffness in your shoulder that slowly gets worse over time. People at risk for developing frozen shoulder are often recovering from other conditions that stop them from moving their shoulders.

Other conditions that sometimes require this surgery include:

  • Injury
  • Stroke
  • Trauma
  • Fracture
  • Diabetes
  • Mastectomy

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