Shoulder pain is a common injury seen in physical therapy. The phrase “frozen shoulder” is often used to describe a stiff and painful shoulder.
Frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis. Frozen shoulder presents with a shoulder that is very stiff accompanied by aching, soreness, and pain in the shoulder and upper arm. Movement in the shoulder is very limited. There are commonly three stages of frozen shoulder: the freezing stage, the frozen stage and the thawing stage.
Frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint thickens and tightens, which restricts movement. The exact cause of this is unknown. Frozen shoulder is more common in women, those with diabetes, and in persons who have immobility of their shoulder for a period of time such as after shoulder surgery or fracture.1
Symptoms of frozen shoulder can vary depending on the stage and may also worsen over time. Learn more about the symptoms of each stage below:
Moving through all the stages of frozen shoulder can take 12-18 months to resolve. Typically the freezing stage is the most painful for patients.
Physical therapy can help treat the symptoms of frozen shoulder. Many times the pain and stiffness in the shoulder limits the ability to perform normal daily routines such as washing hair, getting dressed and reaching overhead. Physical therapy can help to address the pain and stiffness of the shoulder.
Examples of physical therapy treatment for frozen shoulder:
Physical therapy treatment for frozen shoulder is based on the individual and their specific symptoms. If you are experiencing frozen shoulder or general shoulder pain, schedule a free assessment at Athletico. Our team will take a look at your condition and provide recommendations for treatment, which may include starting physical therapy the same day.
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1. Prestgaard, Tore A, et al. “Patient Education: Frozen Shoulder (Beyond the Basics).” Up-ToDate, www.uptodate.com/contents/frozen-shoulder-beyond-the-basics.