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Adhesive Capsulitis: Frozen Shoulder

Posted on 13 April 2015

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a condition where the general motion of your shoulder is restricted in all movements and is accompanied by nagging pain. The reason these symptoms begin is generally unknown.

Pain and loss of movement are a result of irritation of the structures that make up the shoulder joint, specifically the shoulder joint capsule.

Why Me?

Some conditions, including diabetes, thyroid disease, and auto-immune disease, place those people at slightly greater risk for developing frozen shoulder. In general, most people with frozen shoulder are over the age of 50.

What to Expect:

There are 3 stages to the condition :

  1. Painful Stage This is usually when your pain first occurs and you begin to notice your shoulder does not move very well. It can last anywhere from 2 9 months.
  2. Frozen Stage Your pain may actually decrease from when you first noticed it. However, you will notice the motion in your shoulder continues to decline. This stage can last anywhere from 4 12 months.
  3. Thawing Stage The motion in your shoulder starts improving in all directions. This stage can last anywhere from several months to a few years.

What Can I do if I have it?

There is strong evidence in the latest research supporting the use of the following forms of treatment:

joint mobilisations
stretching & home exercise programs
modalities: heat & electrotherapy
However, it is also important to realize that the latest literature reveals that there is NO strong and conclusive evidence in favour of one form of treatment over another. It is therefore essential to get a thorough assessment by an experienced clinician to determine the best course of treatment for you.

General Rule of Thumb: Movement and Exercise!

Regardless of which stage of Frozen Shoulder you find yourself in, prolonged rest and avoidance of activity is rarely recommended. Exercise and movement is one of the most effective ways in decreasing prolonged stiffness and pain resulting from Frozen Shoulder.


As the saying goes if you don't use it you lose it!


Frozen Shoulder is often a very frustrating and debilitating condition which can affect a person both physically and emotionally. Our team at SEMI are all expert professionals here to help support you through this journey as you recover from this condition. Consult any of our expert Physicians regarding injection therapies, our Sport Psychologist for dealing with the emotional aspects of this injury or one of our Physiotherapists to see what may be the best form of treatment for you.



Neviaser, A. S., & Hannafin, J. A. (2010). Adhesive Capsulitis A Review of Current Treatment. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 38(11), 2346-2356.

Salam, A., Hemmings, S., & Morrissey, D. (2011). Physical therapy treatment for adhesive capsulitis: clinical evidence and clinical reasoning. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45(2), e1-e1.
Tags: Upper body


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