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Frozen Shoulder Surgery [6 Important Answers to Your Question]

Shoulder pain and restricted range of motion of the shoulder are pretty common health problems. There are many possible causes of this problem, one of which is a condition called “frozen shoulder.”

In this condition, the shoulder joint lining (or the capsule) becomes inflamed and sticks to itself and the tendons around it. The most common warning signs are a steady escalation of pain and limited mobility of the shoulder. 

What are the Stages of a Frozen Shoulder?

There are three typical stages of a frozen shoulder:

  • Stage 1 – freezing of the shoulder

This is the primary inflammation phase, accompanied by a gradual intensification of stiffness of the shoulder. As a result, patients may feel increased shoulder pain during the day and sleep. It is also related to pain felt in the neck.

  • Stage 2 – frozen shoulder

This is when the pain starts to ease, but the stiffness in the shoulder remains.

  • Stage 3 – thawing of the shoulder

This is the recovery phase – the stiffness in the shoulder begins to ease.

The whole process may last from 18 months to 2 years.

Can a Frozen Shoulder Impact Sleep? 

Due to pain, stiffness, and mobility limitations, a frozen shoulder can have a significant impact on sleep. Patients find it difficult to both fall and stay asleep. A comfortable position for sleep can be difficult to obtain.

Lack of sleep can impact so many areas of our life including our career, our ability to parent, or just participate in activities of daily living.  Oftentimes this frustration of the pain in the shoulder encourages patients to consider should surgery at our outpatient surgery center in Raleigh

How Does Surgery Work for Frozen Shoulder?

The purpose of the arthroscopic capsular release is to expand the range of movement of the shoulder and to minimize the pain. In addition, the treatment is designed to speed up the thawing phase. Arthroscopic surgery minimally invasive surgery is performed via a ‘keyhole’ method through two or three small incisions, using an arthroscope.

Is Surgery Successful for a Frozen Shoulder? 

Surgery for a frozen shoulder is successful in 70-80% of patients. Successful rehabilitation is dependent upon following recovery instructions from your discharge team. This includes the following advice:

  • Rest and Ice
  • Taking medication as prescribed
  • Following therapy instructions and active participation
  • Keeping all outpatient appointments
  • Wearing a sling if suggested
  • Limiting activity until your doctor has given the okay

Why should I have an arthroscopic capsular release?

Although most patients recover from a frozen shoulder without the need for surgical involvement, surgery is effective in helping to ‘unstick’ the lining of the joint—this aids in speeding up the recovery phase and releasing the stiffness.

What happens during frozen shoulder surgery?

The operation is done using a keyhole surgical method (arthroscopy). The surgeon introduces a camera into your shoulder via a tiny incision and observes the images on a screen. The inflamed capsule is then released through another incision. A steroid injection might be administered into the joint as part of the procedure, and the wound may be closed using stitches.

How Painful is Frozen Shoulder Surgery?

Your arm will feel numb because of the local anesthetic used during your surgery, but this should wear off within 24 hours of the operation. Post-operative pain is natural, and you will be given painkillers to help minimize the pain.

What do I need to do after I go home and how long does it take to recover?

It is imperative to keep using your arm after your operation to avoid developing any stiffness or weakness. Your arm will be in a sling for one to two days after your surgery, but we believe you should return to complete normal daily activities as soon as possible. There is no risk in it. Two weeks post-surgery, you should be trying to move your arm above shoulder height. You should regain most of your range of movement after about three weeks.

What Are the Possible Complications of Frozen Shoulder Surgery?

Arthroscopic capsular release is routinely performed and is generally a very safe procedure. Before suggesting the operation, your doctor will have considered that the procedure’s benefits outweigh any disadvantages.

At The Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center, we have the advantage of having a highly qualified team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and physical therapists, all devoted to ensuring patient safety and the efficacy of the results.

There are some risks to the procedure, including the minuscule chances of bleeding problems, heart problems, breathing problems, blood clots, blood pressure problems, infection, nerve injury, stiffness, pain, instability, fracture, tendon, and muscle failure, and the need for revision surgery.

These are fundamentally the same risks present for all joint replacement surgeries. At The Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center, we are happy to discuss these risks with you and explain how we strive to avert them and how we manage them in the rare occurrence that they occur.


What Happens if a Frozen Shoulder is Left Untreated? 

If left untreated, the condition will likely get worse over time, resulting in pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. It can also be more difficult to treat both surgically and non-surgically the longer it is left untreated. 

If you believe you have a frozen shoulder, it is important to seek help from an orthopedic specialist for intervention 


Learn More About Our Orthopedic Surgery Center in the Triangle

The Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center is the largest and most modern ambulatory surgery facility in Central and Eastern North Carolina to specialize exclusively in orthopedics. Raleigh orthopedic surgeons are board-certified with advanced training in their respective sub-specialties. Our patients receive outstanding patient satisfaction, superior clinical outcomes, and reduced costs. With our care, we are with you the entire way and keep you enjoying life even during injury. 

Call Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center at 919-719-3070 for more information.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.