Treating Frozen Shoulder

Adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, can be an extremely painful and debilitating condition. It causes stiffness and pain in the shoulder, reducing movement in the shoulder joint, or in some severe cases, prevents movement altogether. In most cases, the condition affects the non-dominant shoulder, but in 1 in 5 cases, it occurs in both shoulders.

This condition is more common in women than in men and is most prevalent in people between 40 and 60 years of age. The causes of frozen shoulder are not fully understood; it is not related to arthritis and doesn’t affect any other joint in the body but has been linked with people suffering with diabetes.

Whilst frozen shoulder can follow a shoulder injury, in the majority of cases, the symptoms occur gradually so it’s hard to ascertain any particular cause of the syndrome.

The main symptoms of frozen shoulder

The key symptoms associated with frozen shoulder are stiffness, a reduces range of movement in the shoulder and pain. In most cases, the symptoms occur in phases –

  1. The initial stage of symptoms is the painful, freezing phase, which can last between 2 and 9 months. In this time, the shoulder joint grows stiffer and movement becomes more limited. Pain from frozen shoulder is usually worse at night, particularly when lying on the affected side. Sudden movements can also lead to sharp pains.
  2. The frozen, stiff phase can last between 4 months and a year. Whilst pain begins to ease, symptoms of stiffness and limitation of movement usually gets worse, with the rotation of the arm outwards most severely affected.
  3. The recovery phase commonly takes as long as 2 years, with the stiffness gradually reducing and movement slowly returning to as near normal as possible.

Treating frozen shoulder

There are a number of treatment options for frozen shoulder, though some can be more successful than others.

At the first stage of symptoms for frozen shoulder, painkillers and anti-inflammatories can help in lessening pain and inflammation. In the second and third stages of symptoms, shoulder exercises are important in order to attempt to prevent the shoulder from stiffening up and helping to keep movement as fluent as possible. As a result, most health professionals will give instructions for regular shoulder exercises.

As Osteopaths, we believe that the musculoskeletal system is interlinked and as a result, the best way to treat the symptoms of frozen shoulder is by using the body’s own healing mechanisms. As opposed to using surgery or painkillers, osteopaths use specific combinations of manipulations and pressure points to the shoulder joints and soft tissues, with the addition of gentle exercises.

More information

If you are suffering from frozen shoulder and would like to know more about how osteopathic treatment could help, simply make an appointment by contacting Fiona Passey Osteopaths. Call our Halesowen practice on 0121 585 8555 or 01902 894 894 for our practice in Wombourne.