What is a frozen shoulder?
The well heard of, and sometimes dreaded frozen shoulder, a.k.a adhesive capsulitis is a shoulder condition caused secondary from a serious injury, fracture, surgery or even spontaneously!
Common symptoms associated with this condition are loss of shoulder movement and pain, particularly with overhead tasks and reaching out to the side of your body. Living with this condition can also impact your sleep, given it may be tender when rolling in your sleep. This condition occurs mainly in people aged 40 to 60 years of age, while it is most common in the non-dominant shoulder and three times more prevalent in women.
When delving into the nitty-gritty, a frozen shoulder is an inflammatory condition that causes the shoulder joint capsule (which plays a key role in joint stability and health) to become more fibrotic, meaning the tissue is less able to cope with movement, resulting in the feeling of being frozen and unable to move!
In line with the name itself, this condition affects the shoulder, although it is common for surrounding muscles and joints to become stiff and sore. So too can a physiotherapist assist with this, such as mobilising the neck, elbow, trunk, and surrounding muscles. Below discusses the management of a frozen shoulder in greater detail.
How does physiotherapy help with a frozen shoulder?
While there is no strong evidence for injections or drug management to treat a frozen shoulder, there is strong evidence that pain relieving techniques such as massage and joint mobility exercises with a tailored exercise program help to accelerate the rehabilitation process. Ensuring the optimum function of the joints and muscles above and below the shoulder itself can go a long way in reducing pain, increasing function, and minimising the impact it has on daily life.
How long does a frozen shoulder take to recover? why is it important to treat it early?
On average, full rehabilitation of a frozen shoulder may take up to 1-2 years, whereby the condition can be categorised into 3 phases as seen below:
Phase 1 – Freezing – gradual loss of shoulder movement, with sharp pain when fully outstretched, while pain at night is also common.
Phase 2 – Frozen – the shoulder has now become stiff, whereby pain is frequent during everyday activities such as eating, dressing and cleaning. During this phase, it is particularly important to see a physiotherapist, where they will be able to shorten the duration of symptoms and degree of disability.
Phase 3 – Thawing – this phase of recovery is largely determined by the patient and physiotherapist, in ensuring the shoulder is continually progressed back to pre-frozen shoulder!
Why is it important to visit a physiotherapist early in the frozen shoulder’s condition course?
Physiotherapists possess a unique skill set in being able to effectively treat the frozen shoulder, where they can progressively mobilise and stretch the shoulder while providing a tailored exercise program to ensure your daily life remains largely unaffected! Getting a quality shoulder assessment early during this condition will best allow you to hit the ground running with your rehab while also prevent the worsening of the condition.
Conclusion about Shoulder Pain and Physiotherapy
Our Shoulders are a foundational part of our body movement. It’s still important to identify a frozen shoulder in the earlier stages as it can take up to 2 years to fully rehabilitate. Making sure they healed
completely so you’re able to continue your lifestyle without further interruption in sleep and movement. If it does get worse you should definitely stop by and see a physiotherapist. Physiotherapist are experts in identifying and providing an active plan to get the best and fastest recovery process in place.
About Will Arnel & Primal Physiotherapy
Will graduated from the University of Melbourne completing his Doctor of Physiotherapy. Will’s drive to see the best out of his patients stems from working in high performance and rehabilitation at the Geelong Football Club & the University Blues Football Club. In his spare time will enjoys a quick round of golf, cycling the Yarra & playing cricket in the local competition.