Does Frozen Shoulder Surgery Work?

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Manipulation under anesthetic (closed manipulation)

In essence, this frozen shoulder surgical treatment works by moving the affected shoulder joint in a controlled way ‘while you are under general anesthetic’.

So before surgery, you need to take a general anesthesia. Then your surgeon will make some controlled movements with the affected shoulder joint through a full range of motion. This is intended to help break up scar tissue by stretching the shoulder capsule so thus the joint can get back to its normal mobility.

You may also need to take a local anesthetic injected in the affected shoulder joint in order to help ease pain and swelling.

This surgery is easy and practical. You don’t need to stay at hospital after treatment. Even you can go home at the same day. So far, it may be still the most common surgical treatment choice for frozen shoulder.

Arthroscopy and capsular release

It is alternative option when closed manipulation doesn’t work optimally. Typically, it’s used in the second and third stage of frozen shoulder.

This kind of surgical treatment is also done while you are under general anesthetic, involving 2-3 incisions that are made around the affected shoulder. After anesthesia, a small camera and other essential surgical instruments will be inserted through small incisions.

The camera can help surgeon see the inside of the shoulder. This can help guidance to treat the residual inflammation and remove the scar tissue.

A special high-frequency radio wave can be inserted and used to remove thickened parts of the shoulder capsule. All of these procedures are done prior to manipulation to improve the shoulder range of motion!

What else you need to know?

According to some statistics, frozen shoulder surgery works and has a good rate of success. But it doesn’t work for all cases.

The decision of taking surgery should outweigh the risks and drawbacks. And again, you need to completely understand the risks by discussing with your doctor before taking the treatment!

In addition, there is also another kind of surgery called hydrodilatation (arthrographic distension). It is not commonly used for treating frozen shoulder, but sometimes it may be suggested.

Hydrodilatation doesn’t use general anesthetic so thus patient will be awake during surgery but the shoulder will be numbed.

In this surgery, a contrast-medium fluid is injected that will show up clearly on X-rays. And then under continuous X-ray guidance, another fluid (a mixture of local anesthetic, corticosteroid, and saline) is injected. All of these procedures take only about 15 minutes and you can go home at the same day.

But some experts think that hydrodilatation is not better than conventional corticosteroid injection, though it may provide greater movement and result in less pain!

Citations /references:
http://www.hss.edu/conditions_adhesive-capsulitis.asp

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