top of page

Frozen Shoulder - Symptoms, Causes & Treatment Options

frozen shoulder treatment

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint. It typically develops gradually over time and can significantly impair daily activities and quality of life. 

The condition affects the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint, causing it to thicken and contract, leading to decreased mobility and functionality of the shoulder. While the exact cause of frozen shoulder is not always clear, it often occurs following periods of immobility or reduced use of the shoulder joint, such as after surgery, injury, or prolonged immobilization. 

Primary Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder presents with several primary symptoms:

  • Stiffness: One of the hallmark symptoms of frozen shoulder is stiffness in the shoulder joint, making it difficult to move the arm freely.

  • Pain: Individuals with frozen shoulder often experience pain, which may range from mild discomfort to severe, sharp pain, particularly with movement or pressure on the shoulder.

  • Limited Range of Motion: Frozen shoulder can lead to a significant reduction in the range of motion of the affected shoulder, making it challenging to perform everyday tasks such as reaching overhead or behind the back.

Causes and Risk Factors of Frozen Shoulder

Several factors contribute to the development of frozen shoulder:

  • Immobilization: Prolonged immobility or reduced use of the shoulder joint, such as after surgery, injury, or prolonged bed rest, can lead to the development of frozen shoulder.

  • Inflammation: Inflammation of the shoulder joint capsule, often due to underlying conditions such as arthritis or shoulder injury, can trigger the development of frozen shoulder.

  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, heart disease, and Parkinson's disease are associated with an increased risk of developing frozen shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder Diagnosis by Medical Professionals

Medical professionals diagnose frozen shoulder through a combination of methods:

  • Physical Examination: Healthcare providers assess the range of motion, strength, and stability of the shoulder joint during a physical examination.

  • Medical History: Gathering information about the onset and duration of symptoms, previous shoulder injuries or surgeries, and any underlying medical conditions that may contribute to frozen shoulder.

  • Imaging Tests: X-rays, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), or ultrasound may be ordered to rule out other shoulder conditions and assess the extent of inflammation and tissue damage in the shoulder joint.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment Approach

The treatment approach for frozen shoulder aims to alleviate pain, improve shoulder mobility, and restore function. It typically involves a combination of conservative treatments such as physical therapy, pain management, and, in some cases, corticosteroid injections or surgical intervention. Here's a detailed overview of the frozen shoulder treatment approach:

  1. Chiropractic Therapy: Chiropractic treatment plays a central role in the treatment of frozen shoulder. A physical therapist will design a customized exercise program tailored to the individual's specific needs and stage of frozen shoulder. These exercises typically focus on stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint to improve flexibility and range of motion.

  2. Pain Management: Pain management strategies may be employed to help alleviate discomfort associated with frozen shoulder. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be recommended to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. In some cases, corticosteroid injections directly into the shoulder joint may be administered to help alleviate pain and inflammation.

  3. Home Exercises and Self-Care: Individuals with frozen shoulder are often encouraged to perform prescribed exercises at home to supplement their physical therapy sessions. These exercises help maintain shoulder mobility and prevent further stiffness. Additionally, applying heat or cold packs to the affected shoulder can help reduce pain and inflammation.

  4. Activity Modification: Modifying activities that exacerbate symptoms or put strain on the shoulder joint can help prevent further irritation and promote healing. Individuals with frozen shoulder may be advised to avoid activities that require repetitive overhead movements or heavy lifting until their symptoms improve.

  5. Corticosteroid Injections: In cases where conservative treatments fail to provide adequate relief, corticosteroid injections directly into the shoulder joint may be considered. These injections can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, facilitating physical therapy and improving shoulder mobility.

  6. Surgical Intervention: In rare cases where conservative treatments are ineffective, surgical intervention may be necessary to release the tight capsule surrounding the shoulder joint and improve shoulder mobility. Surgical procedures for frozen shoulder may include arthroscopic capsular release or manipulation under anesthesia.

Overall, the treatment approach for frozen shoulder is individualized based on the severity of symptoms, the individual's overall health, and their specific goals and preferences. 

Early diagnosis and prompt initiation of treatment are essential for optimizing outcomes and minimizing long-term disability associated with frozen shoulder. 

Working closely with a healthcare team, including physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, and pain management specialists, can help individuals with frozen shoulder achieve the best possible outcome.

Can Frozen Shoulder Be Cured Without Treatment?

While some cases of frozen shoulder may improve over time without specific treatment, seeking early intervention and appropriate management can help accelerate recovery and reduce the severity of symptoms.

Frozen Shoulder Recovery Period

The recovery period for frozen shoulder varies depending on the severity of the condition and the effectiveness of treatment. With consistent physical therapy and adherence to treatment recommendations, many individuals experience significant improvement in symptoms within several months to a year.

Frozen Shoulder Complications and Takeaway

Complications of frozen shoulder may include chronic pain, persistent stiffness, and functional limitations in the affected shoulder joint. However, early diagnosis, prompt treatment, and diligent rehabilitation can help minimize complications and optimize outcomes for individuals with frozen shoulder.

For personalized care and effective treatment options for frozen shoulder, visit Bliss Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Centre. Our experienced team offers comprehensive services to help you regain mobility, reduce pain, and improve your quality of life. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and take the first step towards relief.


bottom of page