Frozen Shoulder: Causes, Symptoms and Physiotherapy Treatment

Frozen Shoulder: Causes, Symptoms and Physiotherapy Treatment

Adhesive capsulitis, commonly known as a frozen shoulder, is a condition characterised by painful and restricted movement of the shoulder. A frozen shoulder begins with painful sensations in the shoulder region. At this early stage, shoulder movement may still be possible but often accompanied by pain. From three to nine months, shoulder pain subsides but the stiffness increases gradually. The pain eventually disappears but the joint remains extremely stiff and unable to move.

There are many causes of a frozen shoulder. The condition develops after you stop using the joint due to an injury, chronic pain, or a health condition such as diabetes, stroke, or mastectomy. Any shoulder related problem can also lead to a frozen shoulder if not addressed on time.

Frozen shoulder can also come on for no apparent reason at all. This remains a medical mystery.

The condition generally affects people in their 40s and 70s. It may be prevalent in people suffering from chronic diseases. Frozen shoulder problems are more common among postmenopausal women than men.

Frozen shoulder symptoms

Frozen shoulder develops gradually in three stages.

The first stage is the painful stage which normally takes from one to three months.

The second stage is known as the frozen stage which starts from 3 to 9 months. The frozen stage is characterised by stiffness and restricted movement of the shoulder joint.

In the third stage, known as the thawing stage, the joint is predominantly stiff but pain is much less. The shoulder symptoms can last for up to 18 months or more if not treated.

You’ll know you have a frozen shoulder when it becomes painful at the slightest movement. The pain naturally causes you to limit movement in the affected shoulder. As you gradually decrease shoulder movements, stiffness in the joint increases to a point where you cannot move your shoulder as you used to do. For instance, you’ll eventually find yourself completely unable to reach for an item placed on a high shelf. In severe cases of a frozen shoulder, day to day activities that involve the movement of the shoulder such as dressing or combing your hair become very difficult or even impossible. Night pain becomes a major problem.

How can a physiotherapist help?

Physiotherapy is effective in treating frozen shoulder but the rehabilitation is long and slow. The goal of physiotherapy is to stretch the affected shoulder to regain its lost motion. It takes 9 – 18 months to recover from a frozen shoulder using physiotherapy exercises.

With the help of a competent physiotherapist, you’ll eventually regain movement of your shoulder.

Our physiotherapist will take you through a regimen of treatment procedures including stretching exercises, gentle massage, and thermotherapy, also known as warm and cold therapy. Our staff are highly trained professionals capable of giving patients with frozen shoulder problems expert care and treatment. We have extensive experience in assessing, diagnosing, and treating frozen shoulder issues. If you are looking for expert physiotherapy treatment for a frozen shoulder, please get in touch with one of our professional physiotherapists at Wyndham Physio & Rehabilitation today. To contact us, please call (03) 9741 8268.