Frozen Shoulder

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

A frozen shoulder (or adhesive capsulitis) is when the capsule of the shoulder joint becomes tight and thickened. The capsule surrounds all of the joint surfaces of the shoulder which severely limits movement in all directions of the joint. This also means that less synovial fluid (lubricant for joints) is created which further restricts movement. Currently the cause of a frozen shoulder is not known but certain people are at more risk than others. Women seem to get more frozen shoulders than men, and interestingly, there is a correlation between frozen shoulders and people with Diabetes.

What are the symptoms of a Frozen Shoulder?

Other than the stiffness of the joint, you will likely feel a dull, deep ache in the shoulder. You can occasionally feel symptoms referring into the upper arm and around the muscles of the shoulder. The stiffness you encounter will limit movement in all directions of the joint. A frozen shoulder often progresses in three stages:

Freezing - at first you will notice the pain in your joint with some limitation to your movement

Frozen - afterwards the pain will ease but the stiffness worsens, further limiting your shoulder movement

Thawing - the range of movement begins to return to normal. This whole process can take up to 3 years!

What can Physiotherapy do for me?

Physiotherapy can help to relieve pain and improve the range of movement you have in your shoulder, in turn improving your quality of life. Both manual therapy and exercise therapy have shown to achieve improvement in pain and movement.