The joint of the shoulder is surrounded by a sheet of fibrous material called a capsule. The function of the capsule is to keep the fluid, which lubricates the joint, inside the joint cavity and to protect the joint from infection. Frozen shoulder is an inflammatory condition of the shoulder capsule – it is unlike most other injuries in that the cause is unknown.

The medical term for frozen shoulder is Adhesive Capsulitis. In this condition, the movements of the shoulder become so reduced and painful, the joint is deemed to be ‘frozen’.

Frozen Shoulder Symptoms

Initial symptoms include:

  • pain
  • a gradual decrease in the movement of the shoulder

After this the pain will start to ease, however the shoulder will still be very difficult to move and many day-to-day activities will be hard to do.

Typically you may find the following difficult:

  • washing and drying your hair
  • doing up your bra behind your back
  • dressing
  • tucking your shirt in at the back
  • reaching for objects to the side or above shoulder height


Frozen Shoulder consists of three stages:

Freezing – this stage can be particularly painful and can last up to three months: during this time the shoulder will gradually lose movement

Frozen – this phase can last up to six months: during this time the shoulder is stiff, but there is less pain

Thawing – during this phase the shoulder gradually regains movement


Other Facts about Frozen Shoulder

  • Frozen shoulder occurs twice as frequently in females than in males
  • It is more common in Caucasian women than in other races
  • This condition affects the middle-aged more than any other age group
  • Frozen shoulder often occurs in patients with diabetes
  • Not all frozen shoulders regain full movement


Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

Initially the priority is to settle the pain and inflammation. It is important to maintain as much movement as possible during the initial phase, however this can be difficult. Our physiotherapy treatments aim at reducing pain and excessive muscle tightness.

Medications can assist in settling the pain and inflammation. They must be used in conjunction with a range of movement program to give the best possible chance of recovery.


Products stocked by Gordon Physiotherapy Sports and Spinal to assist your Shoulder Recovery

  • Pulleys
  • Hot/cold packs
  • Theraband