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Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder: frozen shoulder can be categorised as either being typical or atypical.

The symptoms are pain, stiffness, and limitation in the range of movement of the shoulder joint. The symptoms typically have three phases:

Typical frozen shoulder

Phase one - the 'freezing', painful phase. This typically lasts 2-9 months. The first symptom is usually pain. Stiffness and limitation in movement then also gradually build up. The pain is typically worse at night and when you lie on the affected side.

Phase two - the 'frozen', stiff (or adhesive) phase. This typically lasts 4-12 months. Pain gradually eases but stiffness and limitation in movement remain and can get worse. All movements of the shoulder are affected. However, the movement most severely affected is usually rotation of the arm outwards. The muscles around the shoulder may waste a bit as they are not used.

Phase three - the 'thawing', recovery phase. This typically lasts between one and three years. The pain and stiffness gradually go and movement gradually returns to normal, or near normal.


The cause is not clear. It is thought that some scar tissue forms in the shoulder capsule. The capsule is a thin tissue that covers and protects the shoulder joint. The scar tissue may cause the capsule to thicken, contract and limit the movement of the shoulder. The reason why the scar tissue forms is not known.

A frozen shoulder occasionally follows a shoulder injury (traumatic frozen shoulder/atypical). However, this is uncommon and most cases occur for no apparent reason( typical presentation).


frozen shoulder



Treatment protocol:

  • Cannot cure symptoms but can impact on alleviating pain, aiding movement and preventing further secondary soft tissue irritation and stiffness.

  • Deep soft tissue work

  • Joint articulations

    • Self-management advice

  • Range of movement exercises

  • frozen-shoulder-exercises

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