What is Frozen Shoulder?

What is Frozen Shoulder?

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a painful condition where the shoulder joint becomes stiff. The lining of the shoulder joint, called a “capsule”, is normally a flexible structure that allows large amount of shoulder movement. However, with frozen shoulder, the shoulder joint capsule becomes contracted and inflamed. This results in reduced flexibility and a lot of pain with movement.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a condition that often starts out of the blue and has no distinctive cause. However, it has been linked with diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and can be triggered by an impact injury to the shoulder, or after shoulder surgery. This condition mostly affects people aged 40-60 years old. It is also more common in women than men.

Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

Three stages of frozen shoulder symptoms exist.

Stage 1: The Freezing Stage

The shoulder starts to become painful. Increasingly so when reaching away from your body. Shoulder movement decreases and pain worsens at night.

Stage 2: The Frozen Stage

Pain may start to decrease however, the shoulder joint becomes more stiff and movement is now very limited.

Stage 3: The Thawing Stage

Shoulder movement gradually increases with pain continuing to fade away. The shoulder joint returns to a more “normal” condition. 90% of patients will either fully recover or only have mild residual stiffness, a small amount of patients will have more significant ongoing restrictions.

Physiotherapy for Frozen Shoulder

Physiotherapy for frozen shoulder can be an effective way to support and speed up recovery depending on which phase your shoulder is in. A physiotherapist can assess your shoulder and use several methods to decrease pain and increase movement of your shoulder. Techniques include:

  • Specific physiotherapy exercises for shoulder pain designed to stretch the affected joint capsule
  • Massage
  • Joint Mobilisations
  • Thermotherapy
  • Advice on pain relief and methods to reduce day to day pain
  • Basic strength programs to decrease pain

A combination of these methods will help to reduce your pain, increase movement and get you back to the activities that you enjoy!

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