Frozen Shoulder Physiotherapy Treatment

Frozen shoulder is a common shoulder condition, and it is characterized by severe shoulder pain, loss of shoulder mobility and strength. The medical term for frozen shoulder is called adhesive capsulitis, and the pain and loss of mobility is a result of inflammation of the shoulder capsule (capsulitis) and fibrotic adhesions (adhesive) that develop in the joint. The shoulder capsule is the deepest layer of soft tissue in the shoulder joint, and it helps keep the upper arm bone (humerus) within the shoulder socket.

There is still no consensus in the medical community as to the actual cause of frozen shoulder, however individuals who are more susceptible to it include those who have had a previous shoulder injury or surgery, people with inflammatory conditions, inactivity of the shoulder, and post-menopausal women. Some people will develop primary frozen shoulder, which are those with no known cause, and others develop secondary frozen shoulder which is associated with an injury or illness.

Individuals with frozen shoulder will have difficulty using their arm due to the pain and restricted movement. Some examples of difficulties people may experience with a frozen shoulder include reaching above shoulder height, reaching behind your back, throwing a ball, putting on a seatbelt, putting on a t-shirt, and sleeping on your affected side.

Physiotherapy Treatment for Frozen Shoulders

Physiotherapy can help you manage and prevent a frozen shoulder. A Physiotherapist will take a detailed history and complete a comprehensive assessment, to determine the root cause of your frozen shoulder. With this information, the physiotherapist will develop an individualized treatment plan to treat your frozen shoulder. Based on the root cause of your frozen shoulder, and your symptoms, your individualized treatment plan may include:

  • Manual therapy techniques such as soft tissue release, mobilization or manipulation
  • An individualized exercise program including range of motion exercises, muscle strengthening and stretching. As you heal, the physiotherapist will progress your exercises to make them more functional to help you reach your goals.
  • Education on activity modification, posture, sleeping positions, and prevention of re-occurrence.
  • Modalities such as acupuncture, TENS, ultrasound, heat or ice
Frozen Shoulder Physiotherapy Treatment

Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

There are three stages to a frozen shoulder:

  1. Freezing – This is the first stage of a frozen shoulder. In this stage, individuals experience pain around the shoulder, followed by decreased mobility or range of motion of the shoulder joint.
  2. Frozen – This is the second stage of a frozen shoulder. In this stage, individuals typically have minimal pain, and they do not gain or lose any shoulder mobility or range of motion.
  3. Thawing – This is the third stage of a frozen shoulder. In this stage, individuals start to re-gain the mobility and range of motion in their shoulder joint. In this stage of frozen shoulder, they will also experience muscle weakness resulting from not using their arm.
Frozen Shoulder Physiotherapy Treatment

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