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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2012 Jul 3;94(13):1208-16. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.J.00952.

Long-term outcomes after arthroscopic capsular release for idiopathic adhesive capsulitis.

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Orthopaedic Research Institute, St George Hospital, University of New South Wales, Kogarah NSW 2217, Australia.



One management strategy for the treatment of idiopathic adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, is arthroscopic capsular release. While there are long-term data regarding nonoperative treatment and good short-term outcomes following a release for idiopathic adhesive capsulitis, little is known about the outcomes five years or more after arthroscopic capsular release.


Patients with idiopathic adhesive capsulitis treated with a circumferential arthroscopic capsular release of the glenohumeral joint by a single surgeon were assessed with use of patient-reported pain scores, shoulder functional scores with use of a Likert scale, and shoulder range of motion at the preoperative evaluation and at one, six, twelve, twenty-four, and fifty-two weeks and a mean of seven years after surgery.


At a mean follow-up of seven years (range, five through thirteen years), forty-three patients (forty-nine shoulders) had significant improvement with regard to pain frequency and severity, patient-reported shoulder function, stiffness, and difficulty in completing activities compared with the findings at the initial presentation (p < 0.001) and the one-year follow-up evaluation (p < 0.01 to p < 0.001). Shoulder motion also improved (p < 0.001) and was comparable with that of the contralateral shoulder. There were no complications.


Patients with idiopathic adhesive capsulitis treated with an arthroscopic capsular release had early significant improvements in shoulder range of motion, pain frequency and severity, and function. These improvements were maintained and/or enhanced at seven years. In contrast to results reported for nonoperative treatment, shoulder range of motion at seven years was equivalent to that in the contralateral shoulder.

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