Frozen Shoulder

What is a Frozen Shoulder?


Frozen Shoulder is an extremely painful condition in which the shoulder is completely or partially unmovable (stiff). Frozen shoulder often starts out of the blue, however it can also be triggered by a mild injury to the shoulder. The condition usually goes through three phases, starting with pain, then stiffness and finally a stage of resolution as the pain eases and most of the movement returns. This process may take a long time, sometimes as long as two or more years.

Frozen shoulder may be associated with diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease. It may follow surgery or an injury to the shoulder.

The lining of the shoulder joint, known as the ‘capsule’, is normally a very flexible elastic structure. It’s looseness and elasticity allows the huge range of motion that the shoulder has. With a frozen shoulder this capsule (and its ligaments) becomes inflamed, swollen, red and contracted. Therefore the normal elasticity is lost and pain and stiffness set in.

Characteristics/ Clinical presentation

Typically frozen shoulder develops slowly, and in three phases:

Freezing phase: Your pain increases with movement and is often worse at night. There is a progressive loss of motion with the increasing pain. Usually, this stage lasts approximately 2 to 9 months.

Frozen phase: Pain begins to diminish, however, the range of motion is now much more limited, as much as 50 percent less than in the other arm. This stage may last 4 to 12 months.

Thawing phase: The condition may begin to resolve. Most patients experience a gradual restoration of motion over the next 12 to 42 months


Clinical Diagnosis

A frozen shoulder can be diagnosed in a clinic from your clinical signs and symptoms:

You fail to reach above shoulder height

Unable to throw a ball

Incapable to quickly reach for something

Your can’t reach behind your back eg bra or tuck shirt

Unable to reach out to your side and behind. eg reach for seat belt

Or you’re unable to sleep on your side



If nothing is done most frozen shoulders improve significantly over 2-4 years after onset. However, the pain and limitations of the stiff shoulder generally require treatment. The treatment required depends on the severity of the pain and stiffness. These include:

Physiotherapy to prevent any further stiffness and regain range of motion

Painkillers and anti-inflammatories

Injections reduce inflammation and provide pain relief

Surgery has been shown to be of benefit in both the early and later stages of a Frozen Shoulder. It is excellent for both pain relief and restoring movement, with a success rate of 96% at 6 months. Intensive physiotherapy is essential after the surgery.

Here at Comfort Health


At Comfort Health we offer a range of treatments from Sports Massage, Physiotherapy, Acupuncture and Cupping which can all help when struggling with a frozen shoulder.


If you feel like you could benefit from a treatment from one of our practitioners –  Click Here and book in today.