Frozen Shoulder – The Cold Hard Truth

There’s probably a cut of lamb shoulder sitting in the bottom of the freezer, and you’re probably waiting for the right recipe to come along and bring out the MasterChef in you to do something with it right?

Unfortunately, I am no Gordon Ramsay, and I won’t be sharing any recipes today. But instead, I will be talking about a different type of frozen shoulder.

Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder is a chronic condition characterised by painful, and gradual loss of shoulder movement. Usually, the ability to bring the arm out to the side and turning the arm outwards are the most limiting.

So what is going on? Essentially, what’s happening is your body becomes triggered to lay down a specific type of connective tissue within the joint.

The accumulation of the connective tissue becomes thick, almost gluing the joint capsule together with the other parts of the joint. Imagine yourself trying to move while being submerged in honey; that’s how restrictive the shoulder joint becomes. Hence the name “adhesive capsulitis.”

Where does the name “frozen shoulder” fit in? Well, that would be from the unique stages the condition goes through.

Stage 1: The Pre-Adhesive Stage

This is where it all starts. Sharp pain during movement that becomes gradually diminished, achy pain at rest, as well as well laying on the side of the affected shoulder. This lasts up to 3 months.

Stage 2: The Freezing Stage

Movement of the shoulder in all directions significantly decreases and pain is still very much present, especially at night during rest. The freezing stage lasts anywhere between 3-9 months.

Stage 3: The Frozen Stage

Shoulder stiffness takes over pain as the main complaint, with almost the complete loss of the ability to turn the arm out, lasting 9-15 months.

Stage 4: The Thawing Stage

Pain starts to resolve and range of motion is slowly regained. However, mild residual stiffness and pain can still linger, lasting anywhere between 12 to 24 months from the onset of symptoms.

Due to the chronic nature of this condition, activities of daily living can be heavily impeded as function becomes compromised. Our osteopaths are trained to help with the management of frozen shoulder by improving functional mobility.


Shoulder Pain and Mobility Deficits: Adhesive Capsulitis
Frozen Shoulder: Evidence and a Proposed Model Guiding Rehabilitation
Adhesive Capsulitis of the Shoulder. Is there Consensus Regarding the Treatment? A Comprehensive Review

Please contact our clinic if you are suffering with shoulder pain to make an appointment with one of our osteopaths. We are here to help.



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