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Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is where moving the shoulder becomes very stiff and painful. It becomes very difficult to move your arm and people complain that activities such as dressing can become difficult. Frozen shoulder is most common between the ages of 40 and 60, affecting women more often than men (NHS 2015).

Sometimes frozen shoulder begins following an injury to the shoulder, but other times it can occur for no apparent reason.

The typical stages of a frozen shoulder are:

Stage one, also known as Freezing – typically lasts 6 weeks to 9 months. There is normally pain at this stage and you will find it more difficult to move your arm. You may have difficulty sleeping on the affected arm.

Stage two, also known as Frozen- typically lasts 4-6 months. The pain has usually subsided by this point but your shoulder remains very stiff.

Stage three, also known as Thawing- can last from 6 months – 2 years. In this phase the mobility and strength should be returning to your arm.

 There are a number of treatments for Frozen shoulder which range from medication such as anti-inflammatories and pain killers, through to manual therapy and exercises. In extreme cases surgery is an option, however this is obviously avoided if at all possible making medication, manual therapy and exercises a good option. With manual therapy there is often a quick improvement in terms of reduced pain and better sleep but improved mobility occurs over a much longer period.

Osteopathy can help by reducing the muscle stiffness and restoring the movement in your shoulder joint. It can also help keep other joints for example your neck moving if that is stiff. Your osteopath may show you exercises that you can do to aid your recovery and improve shoulder joint mobility. (Link to what is osteopathy)

It is worth noting that there are lots of causes of shoulder pain and a stiff shoulder doesn’t always mean it is a frozen shoulder. Please consult the clinic for a consultation with an osteopath who will conduct a thorough assessment and discuss the diagnosis with you.


orthoInfo (2011) Frozen Shoulder [accessed on 27.11.15]

NHS (2015) Frozen Shoulder

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