Although frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is almost always cured with non-surgical interventions, some people opt for a surgical treatment to resolve their shoulder stiffness and pain. However, frozen shoulder surgeries have a weak track record.
Patients, especially those with additional risk factors, have no guarantee that the surgery will work. And in cases where the surgical procedure is successful, patients are forced to stick to an intensive and painful physiotherapy regimen that can last for months. For this reason, resorting to surgical treatment for frozen shoulder should only be used as a last resort, as frozen shoulder surgery can create an entirely new set of problems down the road.
In some cases, surgery can lead to the development of even more scar tissue in the shoulder joint capsule, worsening the symptoms of frozen shoulder and setting you back to square one. As anyone who has experienced the painful condition can attest, the last thing you want to deal with is a setback in your recovery.
Arthroscopic Capsular Release for Frozen Shoulder
The most common surgical procedure for frozen shoulder is called arthroscopic capsular release. In this procedure, a camera and surgical instruments are inserted into the shoulder joint via small incisions. Performed under general anaesthetic, this procedure has two steps: arthroscopic release and manipulation.
In the first step, the doctor will try to clear scar tissue and adhesions from the shoulder capsule. Once the inflamed connective tissue has been released, the doctor can then put the patient’s shoulders through a complete range of motion.
This surgery may help restore shoulder mobility, but it should only be considered after other options have been exhausted because the most common complication from shoulder procedures is persistent, or even worsening, symptoms.
Recovering from surgery can be painful and discouraging, especially when it comes time for the required shoulder mobility exercises, which is what leads some patients to limit their movements even more than before the surgery, which only compounds their shoulder motion problems.
Other surgical risks include infection, nerve and/or cartilage injuries, upper arm bone (humerus) damage and bleeding.
Success Rate of Frozen Shoulder Surgery
Surgical release is successful for roughly 50% of patients with frozen shoulder / adhesive capsulitis, but every person’s recovery proceeds at a different rate. In most cases, patients who follow their physical therapy regimens regain 95% (or more) of their shoulder range of motion within six months.
It should be noted however that some people continue to experience pain and stiffness, even several years after surgery. Also, adhesive capsulitis can return after surgery, with risk factors like diabetes greatly increasing the risk of recurrence.
Alternatives to Frozen Shoulder Surgery
With each passing year, the percentage of people who suffer from this stubborn condition only seems to increase, which has led to a proliferation of potential courses of treatment. Traditional approaches range from lengthy rehabilitation programs to various kinds of shoulder manipulation under anesthesia to surgery, but none of these options are viable for a quick recovery.
Some interventions, like steroid injections, do little more than provide short-term relief from symptoms, without ever addressing the underlying cause. Other, more invasive, techniques may seek to strip out fascial scar tissue, but they do not resolve the shoulder capsule adhesions that block shoulder motion in the first place.
Any method that does physically separate the internal adhesions surrounding the shoulder joint will not cure adhesive capsulitis frozen shoulder, which is why the MCD Treatment Procedure succeeds where others fail. It addresses the root cause of the issue, without the need for surgery.
In some cases, patients with shoulder pain and stiffness are surprised to learn that their treatments failed because they were actually misdiagnosed in the first place. This can occur because some frozen shoulder symptoms are very similar to those who suffer from shoulder impingement syndrome, sometimes called “type-2” frozen shoulder. For these people, Dr. O developed a groundbreaking Impingement Syndrome Procedure.
Frozen Shoulder Surgery Recovery Time
Recovering from frozen shoulder surgery takes at least two to three months, and only if the patient is able to stick to their scheduled physical therapy regimen. In general, patients must work with a physical therapy specialist at least three times per week and repeat shoulder exercises several times per day, especially in the early phases of recovery.
Maintaining motion in the shoulder joint after surgery is critical to a successful outcome, but it can be an extremely painful process. Failing to adhere to the prescribed physical therapy schedule greatly increases the chance that the frozen shoulder will return.
How Painful is Frozen Shoulder Surgery?
Arthroscopic capsular release is carried out under general anaesthetic, so while the procedure itself is not painful, patients do report severe shoulder pain during post-operative recovery phase and during physical therapy.
Even with the use of pain-relief and anti-inflammatory medications, many patients find the post-operative pain so intense that it is a major obstacle to their shoulder movement and mobility exercises.
How Successful is Surgery for Frozen Shoulder?
The majority of people who seek surgery for their adhesive capsulitis make a full recovery, given enough time. Unfortunately, frozen shoulder surgery simply doesn’t work for some people, leaving them back at square one after a painful experience, or in some cases, worse off than before they consulted with the surgeon in the first place.
What is the Best Treatment for Frozen Shoulder?
In the past, treatment options were limited to physical therapy, pain and anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone injections, or surgery, with each having varying measures of success. But the invention of the non-surgical MCD Procedure changed the landscape of treatment options for the better. With a 98% clinical success rate at curing frozen shoulders, the MCD Procedure is far more effective than other courses of treatment, and it can be completed in under an hour!
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Categorised in: Blog - World Frozen Shoulder Clinic