Shoulder pain? It might be frozen.

Pain, stiffness, and trouble moving your shoulder, undoing your bra strap or taking t-shirts on and off? You may have a condition called frozen shoulder. This is a common term that’s used to describe certain shoulder injuries and pain, but what exactly is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder or Adhesive Capsulitis is a condition that affects the ability to move the shoulder.  The term adhesive capsulitis literally describes the condition:  Adhesive means sticky and capsulitis means inflammation of the joint capsule, therefore you have a sticky inflamed shoulder joint.

It is more common in individuals over 40, usually in the 40-70 age range.  There is a slightly higher incidence in woman and a 5 times higher prevalence in diabetics.  Frozen shoulder is classified as being either primary or secondary.  Primary is where there is no significant reason for pain or stiffness, and secondary follows as a result of an event such as trauma, surgery or illness.

There are 3 phases associated with this condition: Freezing, Frozen and Thawing.

Freezing (Painful)

In the freezing stage symptoms start with a gradual onset of aching in the shoulder.  The pain will usually become more widespread and worse at night time.  This phase can last anywhere between 2-9 months.

Frozen (Stiffening)

During the second phase the shoulder joint will start to stiffen up, although not as painful it interferes with normal day to day tasks such as dressing or carrying objects.  The muscles around the shoulder may start to waste.  This phase can last between 4-12 months.

Thawing (Release)

During this final phase all symptoms start to improve.  Pain will gradually decrease and movement will start to return. This phase can last between 5-12 months.

Treatment focus will depend on which phase you are in but will include manual therapy techniques and a specific rehabilitation program.

Get in touch with our expert, friendly physio’s to see how we can help treat your shoulder pain.