The Stiff Shoulder

  • Richard S. PageEmail author
  • Goran Mitreski


This chapter addresses the non-arthritic causes of a stiff shoulder including adhesive capsulitis (AC), both primary and secondary. Primary adhesive capsulitis is a debilitating shoulder pathology characterised by pain and a progressive fibrotic response with resultant loss of shoulder movement. There remains significant conjecture both in the aetiology and treatment options for AC with patients demonstrating variable return to function as the disease progresses. Although historically thought to be a self-limiting disease with eventual return of full function, recent literature suggests early treatment and management facilitate return to the pre-morbid condition and limit the severity in selected individuals. Further, treatment of the associated risk factors and conditions may aid in the prevention and treatment of adhesive capsulitis. Secondary causes of adhesive capsulitis, including post-traumatic/post-surgical, traumatic and neurological are discussed as well as their potential pathogenesis and treatment options. This chapter provides an overview of the stiff shoulder resulting from pro-fibrotic processes. The aetiology, pathogenesis and natural history are discussed along with diagnosis, radiological features and treatment, detailing both non-operative and operative options. Further, an author’s approach is suggested, treating what remains a debilitating and clinically challenging pathology.


Shoulder Adhesive capsulitis Stiffness Frozen shoulder Shoulder pain 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Barwon – Centre of Orthopaedic Research and EducationUniversity Hospital Geelong and St John of God HospitalGeelongAustralia
  2. 2.School of MedicineDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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