Frozen Shoulder Explained

Aug 27, 2018

A frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis. Patients with frozen shoulder usually complain of pain, especially at night or after sudden or jarring movements, and severe limitation of movement.

It only affects one shoulder at a time but can affect either shoulder however it is very rare to have a frozen shoulder on the same side twice.


The baggy capsule around the shoulder joint becomes inflamed and thickened, sometimes even sticking together. This means when you try to move your arm there isn’t enough give or stretch in the bag – resulting in pain and restriction.



What causes frozen shoulder?

The truth is we still don’t exactly know although there are a number of factors which seems to make its occurrence more likely:
• Recent shoulder injury or painful shoulder
• Recent shoulder surgery
• Diabetes
• Women around the time of menopause
• Recent history of strokes or heart disease
• Dupuytren’s contracture

How long does it take to get better?

Most frozen shoulders get better within about 12-18months, the earlier appropriate advice and treatment is started the better results your likely to get.
It typically goes through three phases before resolution, each lasting roughly six months:
 Pain but minimal restriction
 Pain and restriction
 Little pain but still restricted


Osteopathic treatment aims to maintain and improve mobility and relieve the muscular tension around the joint. Gentle exercises to encourage greater movement are helpful but should be done with care, if they are over done it can have the opposite effect.


Pain relief is often helpful to help deal with the pain especially at night and this should be discussed with your G.P.

In rare cases steroid injections or surgery may be required.

Exercises that can help frozen shoulder


Pendular Swing:  Gently lean forwards onto a stable surface, like a table. Gently swing your arm forward and backwards, side-to-side and then in small circles. Start with small movements and increase the movement as it starts to feel more comfortable.  Repeat for 30 seconds in each direction.

Wall walking:  Stand facing a wall, just short of arm’s length away, finger tips touching the wall. Walk your fingers up the wall a little as far as feels comfortable.  Trace out shapes/numbers/letters of the alphabet, by walking your fingers along the wall. Do about 1-3 depending on your     tolerance.  Repeat 2-3 per day


Polishing:  Gently lean forwards onto a kitchen worktop or table with your good hand. Start by polishing in small circles, gradually increasing the movement as you feel more comfortable. Repeat for 60 seconds

The aim of these exercises is to get a range of movement through your shoulder in all different directions, up down, forward and back etc.  If it becomes too uncomfortable then gently stop the exercise and seek advice before continuing.


PLEASE NOTE: This information is for guidance only.  It is always best to get an accurate diagnosis first before starting an exercise programme.  We would be happy to help you at Cheadle Osteopathy to get to the root of your problem and get you feeling better and back tot he things you love, a s quickly as possible.


Book Online on call us on 0161 4781877


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