Frozen shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

What is it?

Adhesive Capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, is the stiffening of the shoulder due to scar tissue, which results in painful movement and loss of motion.

PROCarePT Frozen Shoulder How do you get it?

Although there is no known reason why some people get a frozen shoulder, there are a couple possible causes. Frozen shoulder usually occurs:

  • As a reaction to an injury or to surgery
  • Pain from other conditions such as arthritis or a bursa that has caused you to stop moving your shoulder
  • Having your arm in a sling or in any one static position for long periods of time
  • From inflammation

Basically, if that shoulder stays stiff and still in one position for too long, it seems to lead to Adhesive Capsulitis or a Frozen Shoulder.

How does it feel?

There are four main stages of Adhesive Capsulitis, each with a slightly different symptoms. In general, you will experience some levels of pain and stiffness.

Stage 1: Pre-freezing (1 to 3 months of symptoms)

When you are not using your arm/shoulder a dull aching pain is normally present and sharp pain occurs with both active movement (when you move your arm/shoulder) and passive movements (when someone moves your arm/shoulder for you). You may start to notice motion loss when you do activities such as turn the doorknob, reach behind your back, and raise your arm up in the air. Pain is common during the day and at night.

Stage 2: Freezing (3-9 months of symptoms)

Loss of movement and increase in pain levels continue. An increase in pain levels at night is common.

Stage 3: Frozen (9-14 months of symptoms)

By this point, movement is greatly limited and pain levels are quite substantial. However, around 12 months, pain levels tend to decrease and pain only occurs during shoulder movement.

Stage 4: Thawing (12-15 months of symptoms)

The range of movement in the shoulder is severely limited but pain levels are decreased, especially at night. Ability to do activities overhead is improving.

How do you prevent it?

Minimize the time that your shoulder is spent held statically in one position after injury. Gently moving it through stretches and range of motion exercises may help to prevent frozen shoulder from developing.

Once you have it, how do you treat it?

PROCare Physical Therapy guided exerciseTreatment starts with stretching and exercise by a physical therapist. In some cases, injections of corticosteroids and numbing medications into the joint capsule can be beneficial for healing.



If you are dealing with pain, take the first step today. Call PROCare Physical Therapy to schedule a FREE pain assessment today! 414-858-1361 (New Berlin clinic) or 414-727-3345 (Greenfield clinic)

Tags: , , ,