Hydrodilatation (injection) for frozen shoulder

What is it?

You might require hydrodilatation if your joints are painful and stiff due to the formation of scar tissue. Hydrodilatation may also be performed to treat frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, is a condition which causes pain and loss of motion in the shoulder joint. It is a result of inflammation of the ligaments connecting the shoulder bones to each other. The shoulder capsule becomes thick, tight, and stiff bands of tissue called adhesions develop.

Diagnosis and treatment options

Your consultant will examine you and ask you to demonstrate certain movements to check how well your shoulder is working.

You might need some additional tests:

  • X-ray
  • An ultrasound scan
  • A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

The hydrodilatation procedure involves injecting a fluid into the shoulder joint space which expands and breaks-up the scar tissue, loosening the joint. Imaging helps guide the procedure.

To perform the injection, local anaesthesia is administered and the joint is then injected with a small amount of contrast substance to help visualise the joint. A needle is then inserted into the capsule that surrounds the joint and a fluid mixture consisting of saline (sterile water), steroid and an anaesthetic is injected. The entire procedure takes approximately 15 minutes. You may experience some discomfort during and after which usually lasts no more than half an hour.

You are advised not to drive or operate heavy machinery for at least six hours after the injection.

Some patients experience immediate relief from pain and improved range of motion, however it usually takes around six weeks for the treatment to take full effect.

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