Skip to content Skip to footer

Frozen Shoulder

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder or Adhesive Capsulitis is when the capsule that surrounds the shoulder joint becomes enflamed and causes shoulder pain and shoulder stiffness.

The symptoms of Frozen shoulder might start with just a little shoulder pain, or difficulty reaching behind you or extending your arm over head. Other symptoms include:

  • –restricted shoulder movement
  • –shoulder pain
  • –limited range of motion
  • –shoulder pain at rest
  • –shoulder pain with movement
  • –shoulder pain at night
  • –difficulty with day-to-day functions (e.g., combing your hair, reaching behind you, lifting things, clipping your bra)

With frozen shoulder, the three stages typically are:

  1. 1. Freezing state, when the shoulder starts to get tight and restricted
  2. 2. Frozen state, when the mobility is the most limited
  3. 3. Thawing state, which occurs when the shoulder starts to unravel itself and regain movement, either on its own or with the help of intervention.

The full cycle of frozen shoulder can last for a few months or up to a year.

What causes Frozen Shoulder?

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The head of the upper arm bone is the ball and it fits into the shoulder joint, which is the socket. surrounding the joint is something called a capsule. With frozen shoulder, the capsule of the shoulder is what becomes enflamed and causes shoulder pain and shoulder stiffness.

No one really knows what triggers frozen shoulder, however it tends to happen more in women with a more slender build than in men. It’s your body’s mechanism to protect itself.

Frozen shoulder symptoms can come on gradually or it can be caused by a sudden fall to the arm or other trauma.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

In a traditional PT setting, usually treatment involves a lot of stretching and range of motion exercises along with modalities such as, ultrasound, electric stimulation and heat/cold. This can help you regain some of your range of motion.

However, what we see is that those methods only help our patients regain some of the range of motion and there is usually still shoulder pain. They might find that it gets better, but they’re still having pain with specific movements or they have to give up a certain activity they enjoy because of the pain.

At Rebalance, we believe it’s important to treat not only the capsule, but the musculature that goes on top of that capsule, which plays a significant role in frozen shoulder.

Often, due to the shoulder pain, we find that there is compensation throughout the muscles affected by the shoulder, which can lead to imbalances and issues in the muscles, including the head, neck, upper back, biceps, triceps and upper arm. All of that musculature can start to affect how the shoulder functions. We find a lot of patients with frozen shoulder also develop head and neck pain.

It’s important to treat the soft tissue and improve the joint function. We use soft tissue release techniques, including Graston technique, trigger point release, Myofascial release and friction massage the release the soft tissue. That will let the capsule soften so that we can work on the joint to move properly. From there, we start to incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises.

This combination techniques is the most effective way to alleviate your shoulder pain from frozen shoulder and improve your range of motion.

Featured In:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!