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Hydro-dila-WHAT? Hydrodilatation Injection Provides Immediate Relief for Frozen Shoulder

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is characterized by pain, stiffness and loss of range of motion in the shoulder joint. The joint capsule becomes tight and inflamed.

Physical therapy is the cornerstone treatment for frozen shoulder. During physical therapy, the arm and shoulder are stretched to the point of tension, but not pain. This expands the joint tissues, slowly improving pain and range of motion over time.

Hydrodilatation, or joint capsule distention, is an extremely effective treatment when used in conjunction with physical therapy. First, the front of the shoulder is numbed with lidocaine. Then, using ultrasound guidance, the joint capsule is injected with a mixture of saline, lidocaine and steroids. The volume of the injection works to expand the joint capsule and break up adhesions. Lidocaine and steroids provide immediate pain relief and reduce inflammation.

Immediately following the procedure, patients will experience pain relief and increased range of motion. Continuing physical therapy as part of an integrated medicine approach will improve the symptoms even further.

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