Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder also known as Adhesive Capsulitis, is a condition which causes painful restricted shoulder movement. It is thought to affect:-

  • Women more than men
  • Patients over 40 years

Who display:-

  • Gradual onset shoulder pain
  • Usually one symptomatic shoulder at a time (rarely both)
  • Characterised by increasing pain and stiffness

This condition can usually be divided into 3 phases:-

  1. Painful phase – The patient usually experiences a background ache in the shoulder with movement. As time progresses they often start to note an increasing pain at rest and night. As the phase advances towards the adhesive phase, stiffness becomes a major complaint.
  2. Adhesive phase – usually starts several months into their complaint, with the pain becoming less severe. There is reduced pain at rest and at night, but discomfort and a more severe pain at the limits of movement. Shoulder movement becomes more restricted during this phase.
  3. Resolution phase – the pain is less evident and the dominant symptom is restricted shoulder movement. There is a slow and gradual improvement in range of motion with the onset and rate of recovery varying from patient to patient.


Frozen shoulder treatment can be useful to reduce symptoms. Chiropractors can help relieve symptoms via manual treatment such as soft tissue work, muscle release and mobilisation techniques. They can also provide you with some home exercises to help manage the condition. Generally frozen shoulder resolves naturally in 1.5 to 2 years however it has been known to last longer. Manual therapists such as chiropractors can provide frozen shoulder treatment to help manage the complaint, improving the comfort of the patient.


Top tips if you think you are suffering from frozen shoulder:-

  • Do the exercises prescribed by your chiropractor or healthcare professional
  • Keep the shoulder mobile (don’t limit the movement as this tends to tighten it further)
  • Maintain a good posture as this tends to keep your shoulder in a good position
  • Ice pack or heat packs can help reduce the discomfort (remember to wrap the ice or heat pack in a tea towel to prevent burning the skin and do not apply for longer than 10 minutes)