A/Prof Cristina Morganti-Kossmann
August 19, 2020

The frozen shoulder

The aetiology of the frozen shoulder, also named adhesive capsulitis, remains mysterious, yet the condition can be quite painful and debilitating. In some patients, the cause of a frozen shoulder cannot be established at all. There are arguments on whether or not a tear to the rotator cuff is associated with the disease. Certainly, shoulder injury and surgery, as well as age, female gender and medical diseases such as diabetes type 2, may predispose to a frozen shoulder.

The frozen shoulder manifests with the inflammation and thickening of the ligaments and capsule surrounding the joint, restricting the range of movement and eliciting significant pain when attempting to move the shoulder. As described in today’s pathology, the phases of this condition have an extensive duration, requiring months to develop and months to heal. Unfortunately, for some individuals, a complete recovery never occurs.

In the context of workers compensation, it is quite challenging to determine whether a frozen shoulder is related to the profession or resulting from other injuries acquired in the workplace, or completely unrelated to work activities. In fact, there are some epidemiological and medical conditions predisposing to a frozen shoulder, however, their association remains obscure.

It is important for an injured worker to provide records proving that, for instance, an injury or surgery requiring shoulder immobilisation has ultimately caused the condition. It is also necessary to demonstrate that the initial shoulder injury resulted from the employer’s lack of duty of care and negligence, thus leading to sustained injury. However, proving that a frozen shoulder qualifies for compensation may be quite difficult.

If you wish to learn about this pathology, simply click here.

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