What is a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder is a condition in which a patient develops significant pain and stiffness of their affected shoulder. This is usually not secondary to any known injury. The exact cause is unknown, however, there have been studies that show it can be associated with female sex, age 40-60 years and is more common in people with diabetes and those with an affected sibling. It affects the shoulder capsule (the internal lining of the shoulder joint), causing a combination of inflammation-causing pain and fibrosis which causes significant stiffness and therefore reduces movement.

What are the symptoms of a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is usually characterised by extreme pain, which is accompanied by a progressive loss of range of movement.  This ‘freezing’ process can last several weeks to months. Following this, the painful inflammatory component can reduce but patients often still have significantly reduced range of movement, which can lead to significant disability.

How is it diagnosed?

It is diagnosed by taking a careful history and performing a detailed examination. This will often confirm an atraumatic history with no preceding cause. The loss of movement throughout the range is the key finding, particularly affecting the ability of the patient to turn the arm away from the body. Shoulder X-ray and MRI scans are useful to exclude other potential causes such as arthritis or another associated injury.

How is it treated?

Treatment can begin with symptomatic management with painkillers and reassurance to patients. Frozen shoulder can improve in some cases without intervention within 2 years. However, there is often a residual loss of range of movement and the patient may have limited use of their arm for 2 years or longer. Recent evidence has suggested that ultrasound-guided glenohumeral hydrodilatation with intra-articular steroid injection, combined with physiotherapy, can successfully improve this condition. This would be the first-line treatment if a confirmed diagnosis is made and other associated causes are excluded.

When surgical intervention is required, we recommend arthroscopic capsular release. In this operation, the tight capsule is carefully and accurately released through a keyhole approach. These operations can lead to a significant improvement in a patient’s quality of life and earlier return to their normal daily activities.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or is experiencing pain in their shoulder or difficulty with moving the shoulder, arm or elbow and would like a consultant-led review, please contact us. Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of ACJ injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of should & elbow -related injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


If you would like to learn about other shoulder & elbow conditions click the button below to find out more


If you would like to learn about other shoulder & elbow treatments click the button below to find out more

our specialist shoulder and elbow consultants

Shoulder and Elbow care at Grosvenor Orthopaedics is led by our consultant surgeons Mr W James White and Mr David Butt, both graduates of London medical colleges. They bring extensive experience to Grosvenor Orthopaedics having worked across Guys NHS Trust and the world renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

Our team have broad experience in the successful treatment of a range of shoulder and elbow problems, addressing both young and sports related injuries as well as those relating to trauma, disease process and genetics.

Patients who choose Grosvenor Orthopaedic Partners for their treatment will receive some of the best care available in the UK. Our team are leading consultants across London’s shoulder and elbow clinics and offer specialist care to our private patients through King Edward’s Hospital, HCA Lister and other major private hospitals in central London.

Our team are well placed to manage and treat a diverse range of shoulder and elbow problems utilising cutting edge diagnostic technology and treatment approaches, both surgical and conservative. Below is an overview of some of the conditions we treat but for a more thorough understanding please contact our team here


Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

FRCS(Tr&Orth), MBBS, BSc(Hons)
James is a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon, practising at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, King Edward VII’s, The Lister Hospital Chelsea and HCA Chiswick Outpatient Clinic. His practice encompasses all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery including arthroscopy, arthroplasty and trauma. He has a reputation as a thorough clinician, effective communicator and skilled surgeon. Through joint decision-making with the patient and utilising non-operative techniques where possible, he achieves the best possible outcomes for patients. When surgery is required, James has excellent outcomes based on his precise and prepared approach to operating.


Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon

FRCS(Tr&Orth), MSc, MBBS, BSc(Hons)
David is a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon, practising at the world-renowned Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore, King Edward VII’s Hospital and One Hatfield. His practice involves all aspects of shoulder and elbow surgery, from minor injuries to complex reconstructive procedures. He strongly believes in shared decision making and a patient-centred approach to treatment. He is a meticulous surgeon using up to date and evidence-based techniques to treat every patient’s individual needs.

What some of our patients say

Mrs MA

Thank you for taking care of me. You went above and beyond and I am so touched and grateful. My knee feels fine now