Frozen shoulder is also called shoulder contracture or adhesive capsulitis.

What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder describes a condition that causes stiffness and pain in your shoulder and results in loss of movement at the shoulder joint. Frozen shoulder develop slightly more often in women and affects around 3% of the population.

What causes frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder happens when the tissue around the shoulder capsule becomes thickened and inflamed. It has not entirely clear why some people get frozen shoulder. There are several different theories including links with: age and gender, endocrine disorders, and shoulder trauma or surgery, though there is still a large debate around what actually causes frozen shoulder.

What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder occurs in 3 stages: freezing, frozen and thawing with different symptoms:

  • Freezing: pain around the shoulder and a progressive loss of movement
  • Frozen: little pain with no more loss or regain of range of movement
  • Thawing: gradual return of range of movement, some weakness due to lack of use in the previous stages

People with frozen shoulder tend to have the following problems:

  • Unable to throw a ball
  • Inability to reach above shoulder height
  • Unable to quickly reach for something
  • Unable to tuck shirt in or reach for bra
  • Unable to sleep on side
  • Unable to reach out to side and behind- e.g. reach for seatbelt

Each stage can last an average of 6-8 months if left untreated though the length of time in each stage of the condition varies person to person and physiotherapy can help speed up the healing process.

How is frozen shoulder diagnosed?

Frozen shoulder can be diagnosed by your physiotherapist following a thorough shoulder assessment and a series of special tests.

Sometimes it may be necessary to have another scan such as an X-ray or MRI to rule out other causes of shoulder pain.

What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for frozen shoulder?

Your physiotherapist will carry out a full shoulder examination and create a tailored treatment programme based around your goals and lifestyle. There are a wide range of treatment options for frozen shoulder and treatment will also be dependent upon which stage of the condition you are in.

Treatment for frozen shoulder can include:

  • Education and advice
  • Heat or cold therapy
  • Manual mobilisations
  • Electrotherapy
  • Passive range of movement exercises
  • Active range of movement exercises
  • Strengthening exercises Acupuncture
  • Advice regarding analgesia and corticosteroid injections

Benefit of physiotherapy for frozen shoulder?

There are several benefits of physiotherapy for frozen shoulder all assisting in helping you to recover as quickly as possible in the safest way possible. The different benefits you feel from physiotherapy will be based on what your symptoms were initially and your treatment goals.

Physiotherapy aims to:

  • Reduce pain
  • Improve range of movement
  • Improve strength
  • Improve functional ability
  • Decrease stiffness

If you would like to book an assessment or enquire further, please call 01245 830280 or e-mail: