Self Help

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder

Shoulder Pain


Also known as Adhesive Capsulitis. Commonly affects those between 50-60 years of age, females more than males and a higher risk in diabetics. Often without injury, but of gradual onset with increasing loss of movement or after trauma due to then being less mobile.

There are 3 stages:

  • Freezing Stage- painful stage with loss of active (moving the shoulder yourself) and passive (someone else moving your shoulder) movement, pain often worse at night. Generally lasts 3-9 months.
  • Frozen Stage- pain levels often settle but movement loss can progress further, unable to perform movements such as reaching your hand behind your back, reaching forwards or sideways. Generally lasts 4-12 months.
  • Thawing Stage- movement begins to return and symptoms improve. Generally lasts 12-42 months.


  • Gradual onset of shoulder pain which may radiate down the arm to the elbow with reduction in movement (can also occur after trauma)
  • Pain often worse at night
  • Loss of rotation (taking your hand away from the body) followed by flexion (reaching) and abduction (reaching sideways)


  • Activity modification
  • Ice or heat
  • Pain relief
  • Physiotherapy- during the freezing and frozen stage maintenance exercises can be given. Once reached the thawing stage strengthening exercises and range of movement exercises can be introduced.
  • Orthopaedic options are available including manipulation under anaesthetic and Hydrodilitation


X-ray to rule out bony pathology (e.g. dislocation or OA), should come back normal

Exercises to try

Frozen Shoulder

Shoulder Pain
Allied Health Professionals Physiotherapist working with a patient

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