Fixing Your Frozen Shoulder

Fixing Your Frozen Shoulder


A frozen shoulder is a shoulder joint that has lost a substantial amount of its range of motion in all directions due to scarring around the joint. Its range of motion is limited not only when you attempt to move, but also when someone tries to move the joint fully, while the patient relaxes.

A frozen shoulder is the result of inflammation, scarring, thickening or shrinkage of the capsule that surrounds the normal shoulder joint.

Injuries that can lead to a frozen shoulder include tendinitis, bursitis, and rotator cuff injury. Frozen shoulders occur more frequently in patients with diabetes, chronic inflammatory arthritis of the shoulder, or after chest or breast surgery. Long-term immobility of the shoulder joint can put people at risk to develop a frozen shoulder. If you experience limited shoulder-motion, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

A Frozen Shoulder comes in three stages, each with different symptoms. The 3 Stages are:

  1. Freezing – Initially, one experiences pain around the shoulder, followed by a progressive loss of range of movement.
  2. Frozen – Involves minimal pain, but your range of movement is highly restricted.
  3. Thawing – This is the gradual return of range of movement and some weakness due to disuse of the shoulder.

Physiotherapy treatment for frozen shoulder depends on what stage you are in, as it is tailored to the harm caused in that particular stage.
1. Freezing
Pain relieving techniques include

  • gentle shoulder mobilization
  • muscle releases
  • acupuncture
  • dry needling
  • kinesiology taping for pain-relief can assist during this painful inflammation phase.

An intracapsular corticosteroid injection is considered only when pain is unbearable.

2. Frozen

  • Shoulder joint mobilization and stretches
  • muscle release techniques
  • acupuncture
  • dry needling
  • exercises to regain range and strength

3. Thawing

As your range of motion increases your physiotherapist will be able to provide you with strengthening exercises to control and maintain your newly found range of movement.

Without treatment, a frozen shoulder can be permanent. It is very important for people with a frozen shoulder to avoid reinjuring the shoulder tissues during the rehabilitation period. These individuals should avoid sudden jerking motions and lifting heavy weights with the affected shoulder. It is necessary for patients that undergo manipulation to partake in an active exercise program for the shoulder after the procedure. It is only with continued exercise of the shoulder that mobility and function is restored.

If you are suffering from a frozen shoulder, don’t wait for it to ‘pass’. See a physical therapist immediately and get it fixed.