Frozen Shoulder

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

Adhesive capsulitis (the technical term for a frozen shoulder) can be an incredibly disabling condition, characterised by constant pain in the shoulder and upper arm. It may follow surgery or trauma, occur as a repetitive strain or be as a consequence of underlying osteoarthritis. Poor posture and certain activities can be contributing factors. 

How does the condition progress?

A frozen shoulder typically has 3 phases and each can last for 6 months or more. In most cases it will be self-limiting, normally recovering in 18 months or so. In the inflammatory phase, it becomes progressively more painful with increasing inflammation and loss of mobility. As the pain increases and mobility decreases, everyday tasks become difficult, including simple routines like getting dressed or driving the car. 

How can osteopathy help?

A frozen shoulder will often keep patients awake at night. This is when most people seek help. Osteopaths can very quickly diagnose this problem - with its highly variable history and symptom picture, a few simple clinical tests will confirm the presence of a frozen shoulder.

In the worst cases it can be very difficult to treat, but normally it responds quite quickly to treatment. Typically, a significant improvement can be seen within just a few sessions.  In the first instance, our priority is to reduce pain as quickly as possible and when the condition is stabilised, mobility can be gradually restored. 

Manual therapy is often used in conjunction with cold therapy, exercises and sometimes anti-inflammatory medicines. We are happy to discuss with you the other options for treatment, which may include acupuncture or steroid injections and we will be able to advise you on the best way forward. 

However bad your frozen shoulder gets, try to remember that we can help the vast majority of cases – so there really is no need to suffer the ongoing severe pain and restrictions that characterise this condition.