Frozen shoulder

What is a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder is where you suffer from the inability to move an arm into certain positions. It is usually accompanied by sharp pain when trying to move the arm beyond the restriction. The most common problems with movement are rotation, elevation (lifting the arm straight above the head), and abduction (moving the arm away from the body) specifically beyond shoulder height. You can be resticted in any one movement, a combination of, or all of them at the same time.  It's important to note that these symptoms can also reflect other shoulder problems, such as wear and tear, an impingement, or arthritis. Therefore, to get a correct diagonsis it is important that you see a doctor and do not try to self-diagnose.

What causes a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulders are caused by one of two problems. Either a tendinopathy of one or more of the rotator cuff muscles, or by adhesive capsulitis of the glenohumeral joint (shoulder ball and socket joint).

How do I know if I have a frozen shoulder, or another issue?
Firstly, you must see a doctor as without a scan it isn't really possible to tell definitively. Most of the manual mobility tests will narrow it down to perhaps a couple of different potential problems. The trouble is, the symptoms for a frozen shoulder are similar to other shoulder issues.  The good news is that the (non-surgical) rehabilition methods are also similar.

Suitable therapies 

Any form of manual therapy such as massage, acupuncture and bowen therapy may be supportive. It is also important that you have the correct exercises to do in conjunction with any therapy, as these will really help to maintain and improve any mobility in between appointments.


James Barnett