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How To Treat Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

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What Is Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)?

Adhesive Capsulitis or frozen shoulder involves a thickening and tightening of the shoulder tissues. Research is still being done on why it may occur and what is actually occurring within a freezing joint.  Some studies have shown that a small injury may create an inflammatory response in some individuals that triggers the stiffening of the tissues surrounding the joint. Frozen shoulder occurs more in women between the ages of 45 and 65 years old, and those who have Diabetes or Thyroid problems appear to have an increased chance of having frozen shoulder.

What Is The Natural History of Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)?

Frozen shoulder goes through three phases commonly known as freezing, frozen, and thawing.

  • The freezing phase is often the most painful, followed by the less painful frozen stage where there is the most stiffness.
  • The progression through all of the phases may last up to 12-18 months.
  • Having adhesive capsulitis takes a long time to resolve, but the good news is that it will get better with time.

What Can Physical Therapy Do To Help With Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)?

Patients experiencing a frozen shoulder lack movement at the shoulder joint, especially turning the hand outward with the arm at the side and elbow bent. This stiffness and pain can hinder daily function such as washing your hair, reaching overhead, or trying to tuck your shirt in the back.

Physical therapy can help with the pain and stiffness. Each patient and individual is different and needs to be treated based on his/her own specific symptoms or problems within the shoulder. Here are some general treatment techniques that may occur during your physical therapy treatment:

  • The therapist may perform joint mobilizations on your shoulder and back
  • The therapist may stretch your shoulder
  • You may perform exercises to assist in increasing motion or strength
  • Moist heat may be placed around the tight tissues in your shoulder

What If I Am Having Shoulder Pain Or Stiffness Now?

Please see your physician or head to your local Athletico for a complimentary injury screen.  For more information about Athletico and our services, please visit

As always, feel free to post your questions below! Thanks for visiting our blog and have a great day!

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