Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a condition that leads to pain and stiffness of the shoulder. It is also known as adhesive capsulitis or shoulder contracture.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder can be caused by either of the following:

  • Previous injury
  • Long period of immobility
  • Diabetes

More information

The symptoms tend to gradually get worse over a number of months or years. You will typically experience shoulder pain for the first two to nine months, followed by increasing stiffness. The stiffness may affect your ability to carry out everyday activities and, in severe cases, you may not be able to move your shoulder at all.

If you suspect that you have a Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis), or have been given a diagnosis of Frozen Shoulder, osteopathic treatment can significantly reduce your recovery time. Frozen Shoulder, or Adhesive Capsulitis as it is otherwise known, is easily misdiagnosed. It has a similar symptom pattern to some other shoulder conditions. With careful examination and orthopaedic tests, an osteopath can provide a diagnosis of exactly which tissues within the shoulder complex are injured or inflamed. Adhesive Capsulitis is self-limiting and progresses through three stages of equal duration

> Stage 1. Freezing

In this stage the ball-and-socket (Gleno Humeral) joint is going through an inflammatory process. Folds of the joint capsule tissue begin to adhere to each other. This is very painful and reduces the range of movement in the joint. Thankfully this process stops of its own accord after 2-6 months.

> Stage 2. Frozen

The inflammatory process ends, but the adhesions remain, usually for the same length of time that the first stage took. There is less pain, but still much reduced range of movement.

> Stage 3. De-frosting

Range of movement eventually starts to return. Most patients report almost full range returning in 2-6 months.

In the initial stage, osteopathic treatment can help to improve good function to the other joints of the shoulder complex such as the shoulder blade, upper back, neck and collar bone; this can help to reduce pain during the daily demands on the affected arm. When the second stage starts, osteopathic treatment is focussed into the GlenoHumeral joint to begin the defrosting (breaking down adhesions) stage. This typically reduces the time to recovery by 2-6 months, depending on how long the joint spent in the first stage.