Frozen shoulder

shoulder pain, Frozen Shoulder
shoulder pain, Frozen Shoulder

What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is Inflammation of the shoulder (glenohumeral joint) and also the capsule resulting in greatly reduced range of motion of the arm.


The cause is unclear and sometimes it happens completely spontaneously.
Some conditions however have been linked with the development of frozen shoulder and adhesive capsulitis and include:

  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Inflammation of the tendon of the bicep muscle
  • Arthritic conditions
  • Shoulder trauma and surgery
  • Overuse of shoulder
  • Bursitis around the shoulder
  • Other systemic conditions such as type 2 diabetes

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain with movement – especially elevating arm to the side and turning the arm/hand outwards – difficulty getting dressed, doing hair etc
  • Greatly restricted range of motion of the shoulder and arm
  • Can be painful at night also to sleep on it.
  • Pain and stiffness can spread to the upper back and neck region also.

What is the best management and treatment?

  • Firstly see your Osteopath or Physio to have a proper examination and diagnosis of the pain. There are many causes of pain around the shoulder. The correct condition and cause must be identified in order to treat it correctly.
    Incorrect diagnosis and doing the wrong stretches for example can cause further irritation
  • Patients will want to rest the arm and not move the joint, but unfortunately this only makes the condition worse.
  • Your Osteopath or Physio will give you instructions on how to safely care for the injury
  • The can show you how to do rehabilitation exercises at every stage of the healing through to complete recovery and help to prevent re-occurrence.
  • Moving and stretching your arm yourself can be difficult, painful and cause more problems if done incorrectly.
  • Your Osteopath or physio will usually apply gentle techniques to muscles in the shoulder and surrounding areas that are associated with and or contributing to the problem. They will also gently start getting the joint to move again without pain.
  • We will help to identify irritating activities in your day-to-day activities and then show you safe ways to use your arm.
  • Your Osteopath or Physio may suggest changes to your training if this has been the cause or the way you do daily activities that have contributed to the problem.
  • Take further measures to reduce inflammation ice or an anti-inflammatory which should only be taken under direction and supervision of a healthcare professional.
  • Finally extreme and unresponsive cases will often need referral for specialist opinion.

Frozen Shoulder Rehabilitation Exercises

⚠️ Remember to consult a healthcare professional before commencing these exercises

Frozen Shoulder Rehabilitation Exercises

What not to do

  • Do not apply heat to the region without being examined first.
  • Do not self prescribe exercises or stretches as these may also irritate the problem.
  • Don’t apply deep heat creams or massage yourself.
  • Don’t attempt to continue with the activities that cause pain.

How long will it take to get better?

  • This is very hard to answer with frozen shoulders as there is such a variance, but generally they are an injury that takes a long time to return to complete pain free full range of movement.
  • The Osteopath will likely give you and idea of how long they think it might take to improve
  • You need to be patient with this injury and committed to doing rehabilitation in order to see results