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Winter is approaching - "Frozen" Shoulder

My shoulder doesn’t want to move! It’s frozen

Have you woken up one day trying to tie your hair up or have you experienced stiffness and pain trying to get your winter coat on? Have you experienced your shoulder all of a sudden “freezing up” causing it to become immobile and stiff? There may be a few possible causes but we cannot rule out what’s called a “frozen shoulder” or “Adhesive capsulitis”.

Unfortunately the cause of frozen shoulder is unknown and treatment can be difficult and long. It is suspected that the shoulder joint capsule and the connective tissue becomes stiff causing these issues.

People at risk

Diabetic patients

People who fall between the ages of 40-60 years of age (more common in women)

Rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory disorders

Previous surgery or trauma to the shoulder


There are three stages:

  • Freezing (3-9 months): Shoulder becomes gradually immobile with a lot of pain.

  • Frozen (9-14 months): Pain may begin to subside but the shoulder becomes stiffer

  • Thawing (12-24 months): Range of motion and pain begins to improve

Role of Physiotherapy

At the end of the day “Frozen shoulder” is a self limiting condition. Initially the role of physiotherapy will be to reduce the pain through patient education and manual therapy. Manual therapy consists of massage, dry needling, taping, mobilisation and occasional electrotherapy modalities as indicated.

Your Physiotherapist will prescribe you gentle range of motion exercises that will prevent further restrictions of your shoulder. Strengthening exercises around the shoulder joint is also important to ensure your muscles are maintained and you don’t lose strength and muscle mass. This will make sure the shoulder does not deteriorate any further.

Contact Physio Room Pymble to consult our friendly Physiotherapist if you think this is you!

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