Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

Three months after an operation to repair a rotator cuff tear I find I have a frozen shoulder on that side. Am I just lucky or what? What could cause this to happen?

Answer:

In some cases nerve damage at the time of the original injury may be the cause of the frozen shoulder.

There may be a separate problem going on altogether. For example, neck arthritis with nerve impingement can cause shoulder pain and weakness. Loss of motion leading to a "stuck" or "frozen" shoulder can occur.

Many rotator cuff tears occur gradually. Often there's been a history of shoulder problems. Painful motion, night pain, and gradual weakness in the arm may result in wasting of some of the muscles. Given these conditions, a frozen shoulder can occur. This is especially true if the patient hasn't had a good rehab program after the repair.

Physical therapy to restore motion and function is the first step. If your symptoms aren't improved in six to eight weeks, then a second shoulder surgery may be needed.

Eduard Buess, M.D., et al. Open Versus Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair: A Comparative View of 96 Cases. In Arthroscopy. May 2005. Vol. 21. No. 5. Pp. 597-604.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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