Frozen Shoulder / Adhesive Capsulitis

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a painful shoulder joint condition. In medical terminology, it is called “adhesive capsulitis.” How frozen shoulder exactly begins is still a bit of a mystery. However, it typically occurs after a trauma or repetitive injury to the shoulder. Women in the pre and post-menopausal age range are more likely to experience a frozen shoulder. However, men can also experience frozen shoulder.

With a frozen shoulder, the thick capsule of tissue that surrounds the shoulder joint begins to experience chronic inflammation. The body begins a cycle of inflammation and scarring that causes the capsule around the shoulder joint to contract and become limited in its flexibility. This creates a very painful range of motion in the shoulder when trying to move the arm.

At the beginning of the frozen shoulder, it is very painful, and the range of motion becomes limited. This can be around 4–8 weeks in duration. After that, movement is very limited in the shoulder, but often not as painful. Depending on the severity of the condition, it can sometimes take up to a year to resolve and improve range of motion.

How physical therapy helps

Physical therapy can make a big difference in shortening the time it takes to recover from frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis). By coming to therapy as early as possible, the inflammatory cycle can be significantly reduced, limiting the scarring and contraction of the shoulder capsule. In turn, physical therapy, along with medication, can limit the pain and ensure a faster recovery.

Our physical therapists work with many frozen shoulder patients to reduce pain quickly and restore range of motion to the shoulder. Physical therapy treatments focus on hands-on therapy and specialized exercises to maintain as much range of motion as possible during the inflammatory phase of frozen shoulder. During the “thawing” phase, we work with you to improve the range of motion in your shoulder and restore strength.

It can take quite awhile for the motion to be restored to the shoulder, but by coming to physical therapy, we can help you recover as quickly as possible. Call us today to find out how we can help you relieve your frozen shoulder pain!