Frozen Shoulder

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What is it?


Frozen shoulder (also known as ‘adhesive capsulitis’) is a condition that leads to pain and stiffness around the shoulder joint. Mostly occurring in women aged 35-60 years old, it happens when the capsule around the shoulder joint gets inflamed, thickens, and tightens. Movement of the shoulder is restricted especially movements like raising your arm above the head, or reaching behind your back to put on a shirt. 

The typical symptoms have 3 phases:

  • Phase I “Freezing” – Painful around the joint, stiffness and restricted movement gradually increase.
  • Phase II “Frozen” – Pain is slowly decreasing but stiffness and limitation in movement remains or might get worse. Muscles around the shoulder may go wasting as they are not used.
  • Phase III “Recovery” – Pain and stiffness slowly eases and movement gradually begins to improve.


What can be done?
Physiotherapy is important to prevent further wasting of muscles around the shoulder joint due to poor movement. If muscles waste further, it makes regaining movement of the shoulder back difficult. The stretches and strengthening exercises given will also encourage recovery of the shoulder through the three phases. ESWT will also be used to promote healing. 


Can this be prevented?
The most common cause of frozen shoulders are an injury to the shoulders (e.g. falls on an outstretched hand or on the shoulder, getting hit on the shoulder), triggering the inflammatory response. Having good strength in the shoulders and midback can help to minimise the chances of it happening in case an accident like a fall does happen.



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