Skip to content

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder Physiotherapy treatment in Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Solihull

Frozen shoulder is a common condition, affecting more women than men and mostly affecting those between the ages of 40 to 70.

It often occurs after a traumatic injury, though high stress levels and diabetes can also increase the likelihood of this condition occurring.

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen Shoulder Physiotherapy treatment in Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Solihull

Frozen shoulder is technically an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the lining of the joint capsule. The shoulder is what is known as a synovial joint. It has synovial fluid and a capsule to hold that fluid in. This is why the shoulder is such a mobile joint.

However in Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis to give it it’s correct name, that fluid becomes thick and sticky, hence the term “Adhesive”. The fluid keeps the capsule healthy, and if the fluid is compromised, the capsule becomes inflamed, hence the term “capsulitis”.

Frozen shoulder has 3 stages:

  1. The freezing stage, when the joint gets progressively harder to move.
  2. The frozen stage, when the joint is very hard to move.
  3. The thawing stage, when the joint starts to move again.

This process can take anything from 1- 3 years to work through.

How do you diagnose frozen shoulder?

Frozen Shoulder Physiotherapy treatment in Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Solihull

Diagnosis can be tricky. Frozen shoulder can mimic lots of other shoulder conditions, so it is important to have a thorough assessment to rule out other shoulder conditions.

The big marker of the problem being frozen shoulder though, is that the shoulder doesn’t feel better, no matter how much strength work, massage or physical therapy interventions you do. The shoulder just doesn’t improve.

This is the time to get an ultrasound or MRI scan to confirm that frozen shoulder is occurring. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor may try a steroid injection into the joint. As this is an autoimmune condition, where the body is affectively attacking itself, this can work in some people to help it move out of the frozen phase.

How do you treat frozen shoulder?

Frozen Shoulder Physiotherapy treatment in Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Solihull

The treatment is all around keeping the movement that the client has. We do this with targeted strength work. We also want to keep the joint as mobile as possible and we do this with soft tissue work. The technique of Myofascial Release works very well with this condition.

This hands on technique is gentle and encourages fluid back into tissues, thereby giving temporary relief to the stiffness of the shoulder.

One of the biggest issues with this condition, is that as the shoulder freezes and the arm becomes less useable, the client will then adapt to not having this arm. As a result, even once the shoulder has unfrozen, it is so weak, that to the client it still appears “frozen”. This is why it is so important to keep the movement you have and strengthen within that useable range.

With this targeted strength and loosening work, we have successfully guided our clients through much faster freeze and unfreeze processes than are often cited in the research.

Frozen shoulder needs regular treatment and this can last quite some time. So it is important to call us to discus your shoulder issue and ensure a thorough assessment occurs. This will allow us to help you manage this condition correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions about Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder takes anything from 1-3 years to work through it’s phases and fully resolve. 

Initially 2 to 3 sessions are needed to rule out other conditions and evaluate how you will respond to treatment.

Once Frozen Shoulder is confirmed,  the optimal treatment protocol is a treatment session, with hands on work, every 2 weeks until the shoulder starts to unfreeze.

Then the strength work can take over and we would suggest monthly sessions until you have full strength back in the area. 

The “frozen” stage is the most painful and difficult to manage. We have found that using, a very gentle technique, known as Myofascial Release really helps to improve the tightness and pain. 

We also start you on strength work immediately, using whatever movement you have, even is this is very small. 

We have found that clients who have this combination of loosening and strengthening often work through the cycle faster than the literature suggests for the condition. So to answer the question,  ongoing Physiotherapy/Sports Therapy is invaluable, even when the shoulder is “frozen”.

Sports Therapists are perfectly placed to treat this condition. This is because of their hands on skills and understanding of muscle mechanics. 

Every Sports Therapist is trained in Massage techniques and this condition relies on massage, as well as strengthening. They are able to gently relieve the stiffness and then evaluate how your muscles are working. Allowing them to tailor your exercises to get the best result.

In some cases where a steroid injection is used very early in the process, while the shoulder is “freezing” , a steroid injection can be an effective treatment option. 

Symptoms can resolve within a few days and can last for weeks or months. 

Where the shoulder has become fully frozen, steroid injections appear to be less affective. As this condition can often take a while to be diagnosed, many people miss the early stages, assuming it is something else, and therefore the window is missed. 

However, it is well worth trying a steroid injection, especially if the symptoms are becoming unmanageable, as it may be effective. 

The NHS have some useful information on Frozen Shoulder, which you can view here.

What Our Clients Say About Us?

Learn more about Frozen Shoulder

Want to stay up to date?

Sign up to find our more about staying healthy

Want to stay up to date?

Sign up to our newsletter for useful articles and tips to stay healthy.