Frozen Shoulder

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

Adhesive capsulitis, more commonly known as frozen shoulder, is characterised by the spontaneous onset of shoulder stiffness. 

Cause and Symptoms

Risk factors

  • The most common age of onset is between 40-60 years, and is more common in women than men (1.3:1)
  • It is more likely to affect the non-dominant side (e.g. if you are right handed, it is more likely to occur in the left side). 
  • It is more common in individuals with diabetes, and there is also an association with thyroids disorders 

How is it diagnosed? We will take a thorough history and do a physical examination, looking at your range of movement in the shoulder joint, looking for any pain or deficits. Most commonly we see a reduced range of motion with shoulder flexion (lifting the arms forwards and up), abduction (lifting the arms up to the side), and rotation (putting your hand behind your back). 

When will I get better? Idiopathic frozen shoulder is a self-limiting condition that resolves, on average, over 1.5 years.

Treatment

Can physiotherapy help? Although we may not be able to change the overall outcome, physiotherapy intervention can help you with pain-relieving techniques and modalities, as well as education on management strategies during the painful phase. Then, during the resolving phase, mobilisation, stretching and a gradual strengthening program can assist with future recovery.