A common source of shoulder pain, frozen shoulder is a condition characterised by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint.

Frozen shoulder is a result of shoulder capsule inflammation and fibrotic adhesions that limit your shoulder’s movement.
Although very little is known by the about how frozen shoulder is caused, it is known that the shoulder joint shrinks reducing range of motion and pain.


There are three stages to frozen shoulders, each with different symptoms
1. Freezing

  • Pain around the shoulder initially
  • Progressive loss of range of movement

2. Frozen

  • Minimal pain
  • No further loss or regain of range

3. Thawing

  • Gradual return of range of movement
  • Some weakness due to disuse of the shoulder

Each stage lasts an average of 6 months if left untreated


Frozen Shoulder is diagnosed by physiotherapist by your clinical signs and symptoms. A clinical diagnosis of frozen shoulder can be determined through shoulder examination.

Common issues include:

  • Unable to reach above shoulder height
  • Unable to throw
  • Unable to quickly reach for something
  • Unable to reach behind your back
  • Unable to sleep on your side

Although X-rays can’t diagnose a frozen shoulder, it may be referred to rule out other causes of shoulder pain.


Freezing – to help assist with painful inflammation:

  • Pain relieving techniques including gentle shoulder mobilisation
  • muscle releases
  • Dry needling
  • Kinesiology taping
  • In unbearable cases injections may be required

Frozen – to regain range of motion and strength to prompt return of shoulder’s full function:

  • Shoulder joint mobilisation and stretches
  • Muscle release techniques
  • Acupuncture

Thawing – promote return of shoulder’s full movement motion and ability:

  • Mobilisation exercises
  • Stretches
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