It typically goes through three stages:
Phase 1- The “freezing” painful stage.
Phase 2- The “Frozen” stiff phase
Phase 3- The “Thawing” recovery phase.
Whilst the exact cause of a frozen shoulder is not exactly known, it is thought to occur following injury or damage to the shoulder joint or adjacent soft tissue.
The symptoms usually develop gradually. Patients typically experience a resting dull ache and then sharper pain with certain movements. Aside from pain, patients also typically experience marked stiffness and significantly reduced range of movement of the shoulder.
Frozen shoulder is a self limiting condition which means it does get better. Some cases can resolve within a matter of months but most resolve within 6-18 months. Usually the painful stage of a frozen shoulder lasts 2 – 6 months. The frozen phase approximately 4 -12 months, whilst the thawing phase may last an additional 4 – 18 months.
Treatment for Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
Physiotherapy treatment for patients with this condition is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and decrease the likelihood of injury recurrence. Treatment may comprise:
- Deep tissue massage/myofascial release
- Joint mobilisation
- Joint manipulation
- Dry needling /acupuncture
- Biomechanical assessment (Scapular rhythm)
- Postural Correction
- Activity modification advice
- Exercise programs to improve proprioception, strength (rotator cuff and scapular) and posture
- Ice or heat treatment
- Injection advise