Has anyone had arthroscopic capsular release surgery?

Posted , 10 users are following.

Hi all, I'm 59 and this is my second frozen shoulder.  Had it about 7 years ago in my non-dominant arm - PT for about 9 months and it finally got better.  Now I have it (worse) n my dominant arm (about 5 months now) and it is not improving.  I think PT has actually made it worse.  Now the pain radiates down my arm and into my elbow from them twisting my arm to try to move the shoulder.  I had 1 cortisone injection that didn't really help much.  Now the doctor is suggesting arthroscopic capsular release.  Does anyone have experience with that?  What can you tell me?  It seemed to be an off-handed suggestion -- "no big deal" type of thing.  He said I could go back to work the next day!  No mention of pain meds, but he did say I would need daily PT.  I work at a computer all day and I'm struggling to work with the pain now - I can't imagine what it will be like after surgery.  On several websites about the procedure it mentions 6 weeks to 3 months off work - and 1 site even mentioned a pain pump.  Please let me know what I can expect after the procedure.  I don't know if I should go thru with the surgery or try another steroid shot first. 


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13 Replies

  • Posted

    I had surgery Feb 22, he is right surgery is no big deal. Recovery is really rough, but well worth it for me. Severe pain for about 1 week, even the strongest pain meds didn't help. It just takes time and a lot of PT. I would say I could have gone back to work after a month. One of the problems was driving, not having rom plus the pain meds made it impossible to drive. Good luck, don't put the surgery off because of recovery, it is really tough but the end result is worth it. 

  • Posted


    I had this surgery done 3 weeks ago as well as manipulation whilst still under the anaesthetic on my dominant side. When I woke I had a nerve block which lasted 24 hrs the pain when it wore off was sickening. I am having regular PT. My therapist only wants me to concentrate on moving my arm even if this means using my non dominant arm to lift the dominate one. I had PT today, we discussed strength training as I am losing muscle yet he has asked me not to start building muscle strength back for at least 6 months as the movement I am doing will be ok for now.

    I am suffering with pain in my neck all the way down to my thumb my therapist says this is the upper body equivalent of sciatica! (Cheers doc!) My surgeon says everyone is different and mine just happened to be the worst FS he had seen in a while. My job is physically demanding as I push wheelchairs and support people to walk. My surgeon said you should be off work from 3 weeks for lesser demanding jobs like computer work and longer for more demanding jobs. But everyone heals at differently. Hope this helps and good luck x

  • Posted

    Hi, sorry to hear about your frozen shoulder

    I had the surgery dec 6th 2017 and I’m still not back at work. 

    The actual operation is quite easy. Your dr is crazy if he thinks you’ll be working the next day, you’ll need a couple of weeks off work depending on what you do. 

    I guess you’re wondering why I’m not back at work. While the operation went ok, it caused an even worse condition (CRPS) Complex regional pain syndrome. It’s rare but I now have severe nerve pain in both arms, so much so that it’s hard to function daily, the surgery did improve my shoulder but the pain from the CRPS has made it difficult to improve rom a great deal. 

    I don’t want to put you off the surgery because I know it does help but be aware even though CRPS is a rare condition, surgery and FS can bring it on and it is an absolute horrendous thing to have and there’s no cure. Trust me Frozen shoulder is easier to have. 

    Good luck with your choice, I would do the surgery because it does work but I thought you’d like to know what I went through so you have a complete story. 

  • Posted

    I had this done but my frozen shoulder was due to a numeral head fracture last Nov. I got about 30 degrees more range of motion, but it still is painful. I've been on a 5 lb. Lifting restriction. The surgery was painful! Back to work next day? I wouldn't think so. I guess my next move is shoulder replacement.

  • Posted

    Hi -

    I got FS in my dominant arm in July 2017. The most painful part was the freezing stage, which lasted from July til January. It started to unfreeze in Jan./Feb., and I would say I'm about 80-90% better at this point. The pain also started easing up in Dec./Jan. and SLOWLY got better. I had one cortisone shot which did nothing but get me a $500 bill. I did no PT, or manipulation. However, I did have 4 Prolotherapy shots in the shoulder joint (starting in September) to help the healing process.  The Prolotherapy shots were extremely painful, but in my opinion helped get me out of the freezing stage. I can't even imagine having done PT during the most painful stage. The thought of it makes me shudder. I read a lot about MUA (Manipulation Under Anethesia) and I found some people had great experiences or absolutely horrible (and I wasn't willing to take the chance of it getting worse).

    For some reason, things that work for one person don't necessarily work for another with this horrible condition. Best of luck to you in what ever you decide. Hopefully it will start unfreezing soon. smile

  • Posted

    Thanks everyone for sharing your experience.  I have to admit, you're scaring me.  LOL     I think I'm past the excruciatingly painful stage -- down to mostly tolerably painful, unless I do too much.  I can sleep most nights without having to get up and ice my shoulder - so that's progress, I guess.  But, I'm still extremely limited on range of motion and it severely limits my activities which is why I was considering the surgery.  But I definitely don't want to go back to the extreme pain or make things worse.  I'm not afraid of the surgery itself, but the recovery sounds pretty scary.  Good luck to you all... this condition is not easy and no one else seems to understand, so I appreciate all your replies.     

  • Posted

    I had the same operation a few years ago.  As others have said, the surgery is fine.  If you have a nerve block then it is the strangest feeling as your arm becomes a dead weight.  You can pick it up and drop it and you feel nothing.  Very peculiar.

    I can't remember exactly how long the recovery took but, as I work for myself, I couldn't afford to take time off.  I think that I was off work for about a week.  I work at computers too but I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home during that period.  I didn't drive for 6 weeks so my business partner chauffeured me when we had to be on client sites.

    I'll be honest and say that I don't remember it being that tough of a recovery.  But I have had a hip replacement and an aortic valve replacement (that took about a year to fully recover from) so it may just a case of me comparing the shoulder surgery to those operations.

    Bottom line is that if you are in pain and you have tried all the alternatives, with no improvement, then go for the surgery and deal with the recouperation.  Everyone's experience with frozen shoulder is different; yours might last for 4 more years or it could heal itself in 6 months.

  • Posted

    I had frozen should from August till beginning of December and yes therapy seen to work while I was there then would flair up after I left.. sleeping was rediculiiuse! I had the surgery Dec 26 therapy for 4moths after and I am almost back to norm! The pain that comes with a frozen shoulder is a pain I have never experienced and wish Never to experience again! 😊 hope this helps you and I hope you find relief soon! If I can help any further let me know! Good luck! 

    • Posted

      Also recover time is 2-3 weeks after surgery but PT begins the day AFTER surgery... so they can get the should moving again... I was back to work in 3 weeks ...with no limitations ... I just saw the Dr and he said my range of motion is back at 90 percent I only do excersises at home now he said by December I should be at 98 percent range .... I’m Ok with this.... 
  • Posted

    I have not had this surgery, so cannot speak to that. Only you can decide if the surgery is right for you, but I am wondering why you feel inclined to have surgery at 5 months when your other FS event was 9 months in duration? You indicate your pain is worse this time around....for me, I had the opposite experience....my first frozen shoulder was super painful and limiting with the radiating pain you experience and lasted about one year despite everything I did to address it. My second (current) FS is in my right shoulder (dominant arm) but less painful (although I cannot sleep on that side and still have some radiating pain with certain movements.) This second event has lasted nearly 2 years! Since I am having less pain and have better ROM, I have decided to let it run its course for now.

    I would not bother with cortisone shots unless you get the ultrasound guided one that gets right into the joint. Even those are of limited benefit. Good luck and keep us posted about what you decide to do!

    • Posted

      The reason I'm considering surgery this time around is that it doesn't seem to be improving at all.  The last one ached in the joint itself but because this one is my dominant arm, I think I'm compensating with every other muscle in my body to try to do anything - which basically causes me to ache in every muscle from my neck & back to my elbow and forearm.  It really doesn't hurt in the joint itself too much this time around.  PT just seems to aggravate the pain whereas my last one improved with PT.  The doctor and PT say the  muscle pain is all because my shoulder isn't moving.  It is definitely a hard decision to make.. aching nagging pain now - and limited ability to do anything.. or what sounds like pretty intense pain for who knows how long but hopefully getting my ROM back much faster.  If this was my non-dominant arm, I would definitely not consider the surgery, but I really need my right arm back.  LOL  Thank you for the question.. it made me really think about why I am even considering the surgery.   I'll keep you posted. 

  • Posted

    i just thought i would post an update after my arthroscopic capsular release - i know everyone is different but maybe it might be helpful to anyone considering the procedure. I'm 5 weeks post procedure and i still have mixed feelings about it.the procedure itself was no problem - general anesthetic plus nerve block so no pain for almost 24 hours. I had a couple of bone spurs removed and the doctor said my frozen shoulder was one of the worst he'd ever seen.I started PT the next day (5 days a week) plus also used a passive motion machine for about 4 hours a day for about 3 weeks. it was pretty much a full time job just keeping my shoulder moving! I've regained almost normal passive range of motion but still have a long way to go with active range of motion. That hasn't improved much at all but PT says it will get there - no idea when though. As for the pain - it was VERY painful at first and PT is excruciating but I've gotten to the point now where some days are better than others - some nights I only wake up a couple of times because of pain.Its definitely not an easy fix - but i dont think anything is easy with this!

    • Posted

      I can relate to everything you just said. i had dominant arm capsular release surgery 10 days ago. My passive range (they tell me) is good. Active range of motion? Forget it. External rotation and behind my back are horribly painful. i feel like the surgical pain has subsided but i feel like I felt prior to the surgery but worse. Sleeping is uncomfortable but I manage. Does this get better? Im a police officer and this was my third dominant arm surgery in the last ten years.

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