What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a thickening of the shoulder capsule around the glenohumoral (shoulder) joint. It is usually a result of the inflammation, scarring, tightening of the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint capsule. It can be classified as a loss of both passive and active range of motion in the shoulder with associated pain and stiffness.

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There can be two types: 1.) Primary Adhesive Capsulitis (idiopathic or spontaneous) 2.) Secondary Adhesive Capsulitis (related to diabetes, thyroid disease, or autoimmune disease).

It is common for frozen shoulder to follow a staged progression, with severity varying person to person. The timeline to recover can be between 12 to 18 months. There can be the following stages:

Stage 1: “pre-freezing” stage may last up to 3 months, and during this stage patients describe sharp pain at end ranges of motion, achy pain at rest, and sleep disturbance.

Stage 2: “freezing” stage, presents with a gradual loss of motion in all directions due to pain and can last from 3 to 9 months.Progressive loss of motion for daily activities.

Stage 3: “frozen” stage, is characterized by pain and loss of motion and lasts from 9 to 15 months. You may find yourself having pain at end ranges, when you reach as far as you can.

Stage 4: “thawing” stage, is a large decrease in pain, especially at night. You may continue to have deficits in range of motion, but you are able to complete most daily activities and reach overhead.

Image result for shoulder physical therapyWhat can physical therapy do?

At A. Fox Physical Therapy, PC, your first appointment will be with a Doctor of Physical Therapy, where we will discussion your history and assist in the process of identifying a probable stage of frozen shoulder. We will then tailor stretching, strengthening, modalities (i.e. heat), hands on manual therapy, and range of motions exercises that are best fit for you.

If you have further questions regarding how physical therapy can play a role in decreasing pain and improving your function, please call or email us. A DPT level PT will return your inquiry within 48 hours!

For additional information, see MoveForwardPT for more details!