What is a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is a shoulder condition characterized by shoulder pain accompanied by a significant loss of shoulder motion caused by inflammation and thickening of the shoulder capsule. Frozen shoulder can develop as a result of an injury to the shoulder that results in reduced mobility such as a rotator cuff tear or can develop out of the blue.

Risk factors:

Frozen shoulder is more likely to develop in:
–  Women over the age of 30
–  People with diabetes, thyroid disorders, or cardiovascular disease
–  After injuries causing reduced mobility

Three phases of frozen shoulder

Phase I “Freezing”
–  The freezing phase of adhesive capsulitis is when shoulder motion starts to progressively decrease and typically the most painful phase with all shoulder movement causing pain. This phase typically lasts 3 to 9 months.

Phase II “Frozen”
–  In the frozen phase shoulder pain begins to diminish but shoulder range of motion becomes the most restricted. Function is typically the most limited at this phase due to motion loss. This phase typically lasts about 6 months.

Phase III “Thawing”
–  In the thawing phase shoulder range of motion will begin to improve and function to the shoulder returns. Most people will recover 90% or more of their shoulder motion within 12-14 months and only 10% of people will require more than conservative care.

While frozen shoulder reverses on its own physical therapy can help reduce pain, maintain available range of motion, and maintain shoulder strength. Specific manual intervention includes dry needling, myofascial release, and passive shoulder range of motion with gentle stretching.  While the shoulder capsule is restricted, it is important to maintain motion in the neck and upper back as well as the shoulder blade all of which can be accomplished in physical therapy.

Specific exercises:  For a video of each, please click on this link. https://www.instagram.com/p/Ced9OMjuMv7/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=
Shoulder ROM with a cane

Table slides

wall walks