Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, refers to a progressive condition that causes pain, stiffness and movement restrictions in the shoulder joint. 
Frozen shoulder is more prevalent among women over the age of 40. It is unclear what exactly causes a frozen shoulder but it may be due to a previous injury or surgical event (i.e. rotator cuff injury, fracture). For example, when a shoulder is injured, movements are limited to protect the painful structures. However, as a result of the reduced movements, the bones, tendons, ligaments and tissues around the joint may thicken and adhesions may develop over time.

There are three main stages of frozen shoulder

1) Freezing phase: gradual increase in shoulder pain at rest with sharp pain at end range of movements. Range of motion starts to become limited due to pain and and sleeping is difficult

2) Frozen phase: Pain decreases but there is an increase in loss of motion and the arm begins to feel weak.

3) Thawing phase: Progressive improvement in functional range of motion.

People who experience frozen shoulder will usually report a progressive increase in pain and a gradual decrease in range of motion and strength of the affected shoulder. Activities of daily living such as personal hygiene (getting dressed, reaching behind the back) as well as overhead activities and sleeping may be affected
Although complete resolution of symptoms can take time, physiotherapy treatment and exercises can reduce symptoms and the duration of the stages. Physiotherapy treatment for a frozen shoulder is focused on pain relief and restoring range of motion and strength through appropriate and safe exercises.


Physiopedia (2020).Adhesive Capsulitis. Retrieved on Nov 16, 2020 form