Shoulder Surgery: Arthroscopy For Frozen Shoulder

Shoulder Surgery: Arthroscopy For Frozen Shoulder, TPL Orthopedics and Sports MedicineFrozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a painful condition. Patients with a frozen shoulder find even the simplest movements of the joint to be difficult.

The common symptoms of a frozen shoulder include pain when moving the arm even while performing basic tasks such as wearing a seatbelt, washing hair, or fastening a bra. A frozen shoulder occurs due to the scarring of the shoulder capsule which is the dense lining of the shoulder joint.

Frozen shoulder can almost always be treated with simple, nonsurgical treatments. These treatments may be simple, but frozen shoulder recovery may take months, or at times, years.

Some patients do not fully improve even with time. For patients who have undergone these treatments to improve the mobility of their shoulder but still suffer from stiffness, frozen shoulder surgery may be a suitable option.

Thomas and Bigler Knee and Shoulder Institute, led by committed board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, provides orthopedic treatments to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and other towns and communities in this area of the southwest.


Frozen Shoulder Surgery

An arthroscopic capsular release is the standard surgical treatment of a frozen shoulder. This arthroscopic surgery involves inserting a tiny camera within the shoulder joint. The surgeon can also insert other instruments through these tiny incisions to address the concern.

A frozen shoulder occurs due to a tight shoulder capsule. Therefore, the treatment involves cutting the tight capsule to enable the shoulder joint to move more freely. The instruments that are inserted into the socket cut away the capsule surrounding it.

A vital facet of an arthroscopic release is to make sure that the enhancements in shoulder mobility remain following the surgery. At times, the patient will need to have their arm especially splinted to enable the capsule to help the shoulder remain stretched.

In general, physical therapy will start immediately after the surgery to ensure that the scar tissue does not redevelop around the joint.


Arthroscopic Release Alternatives

Manipulation under Anesthesia

The manipulation under anesthesia (MUA) procedure has been less commonly used since arthroscopic treatment became a standard procedure. It is effectively the passive stretching of the shoulder while the patient is asleep.

The benefit is that the joint capsule gets a much better stretch. However, there are potential complications associated with this procedure. There may be pain after this procedure. However, if too much force is used, it may cause the bones to fracture under pressure. The MUA procedure is usually performed following an arthroscopic capsular release.


Open Capsular Release

Since arthroscopic treatment has become a standard treatment for frozen shoulder, Open Capsular Release is less commonly performed.

Similar to an arthroscopic procedure, the shoulder capsule is divided. However, in this case, the surgeon views the inside of the shoulder directly. Arthroscopic surgery is typically considered superior as it leads to less pain and is less invasive while allowing full access to the shoulder joint.



Surgery is not a common treatment for a frozen shoulder. However, sometimes nonsurgical treatments are unable to provide the patient with relief. In such cases, surgery is recommended as a treatment option.

An important part of any surgery for frozen shoulder treatment is to make sure that the patient starts moving the shoulder as soon as possible following the procedure to preserve any gains in movement and prevent the development of new scar tissue within the shoulder joint.

Cordial board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler receive patients from Las Vegas, Nevada and other cities and neighborhoods in this section of America for orthopedic treatments.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

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