I've heard that a frozen shoulder can be released arthroscopically, without making big incisions in the skin. What kind of benefits can I expect from this treatment? Do the benefits depend on the reason the stiffness started in the first place?

A recent study showed excellent results from arthroscopic release of frozen shoulders. There were no complications from treatment. Two years later, patients had much more movement in their shoulders. They had less pain and better shoulder function. And they were more satisfied with their treatment.

Patients saw improvements no matter what caused the stiffness--surgery, fracture, or no known cause. However, patients whose stiffness came from a previous surgery improved less. They had more pain and less function and satisfaction at follow-up than those whose stiffness was due to fractures or no known cause. Patients with prior surgery also had a little less movement in the treated shoulder. Researchers think the more modest improvements of this group were due to the original injury and/or surgery.