What is the prognosis and expected outcomes for different frozen shoulder syndrome (FSS) (adhesive capsulitis) treatments?

Updated: Nov 12, 2020
  • Author: Jefferson R Roberts, MD; Chief Editor: S Ashfaq Hasan, MD  more...
  • Print

FSS has a favorable natural history. It is generally a self-limiting condition that can be treated with physical therapy and typically resolves in 1-3 years. [38] Time to recovery does not differ between primary and secondary FSS. No difference in pain and disability of FSS in patients with and without diabetes has been reported. [39] Patients with FSS do not have a lower shoulder activity level than sex- and age-matched controls. [40]

However, several studies have demonstrated long-term pain and shoulder stiffness following conservative treatment. Long-term disability has been reported in 15%, [8] permanent functional loss in 7-15%, and persistent symptoms in 40%. [41]

Several studies have noted improved symptoms following arthroscopic capsular release, as follows:

  • Warner and colleagues reported an improvement in the Constant and Murley score of 48 points with a mean follow-up of 39 months. [76]
  • Pearsall and colleagues found that 83% of patients reported their shoulder to be normal or near normal at an average of 22 months following capsular release. [77]
  • Ogilvie-Harris noted that 15 of 18 patients treated with arthroscopic capsular release had an excellent result at 2-5 years following surgery.
  • A review of the literature indicates that in patients with refractory adhesive capsulitis, a near-excellent to excellent result in 75-90% of cases can be expected in patients treated with arthroscopic capsular release and an aggressive postoperative physical therapy regimen.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!