Find out what frozen shoulder is, the symptoms and signs of this condition, as well as tips on how to manage a case of frozen shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder. The condition typically develops slowly and worsens over time. Most often affects people between the ages of 40 and 60. Women are more likely to develop this condition than men. 

There are two types of frozen shoulder: primary and secondary. Primary occurs without an underlying cause. Secondary occurs as a result of another condition, such as rotator cuff injury or after shoulder surgery. 

Diagnoses is based on medical history and physical examination. Scans may be ordered to rule out other conditions, but are not specifically needed to determine a frozen shoulder. 



The exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown. However, it is thought to occur when the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint becomes inflamed. This inflammation narrows the space within the joint, which limits movement and causes pain. 

Frozen shoulder typically develops in three stages: 

  1. Freezing stage: Pain gradually develops, and movement of the shoulder decreases. This stage can last anywhere from weeks to months.
  2. Frozen stage: Pain persists, and shoulder movement does not improve. This stage can last for several months.
  3. Thawing stage: Shoulder movement gradually improves as pain subsides. This stage can last for months to a year.



The most common symptom of frozen shoulder is pain that increases with activity or at night when lying down.

Other symptoms include: 

  • Stiffness in the joint 
  • Difficulty moving the arm away from the body 
  • Weakness in the arm


Treatment Options 

There is no single treatment that is effective for all cases.

Treatment options include: 

1) Physiotherapy: A physiotherapist can teach you exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles and connective tissue around the joint. These exercises can be helpful in the early and late stages of frozen shoulder to maintain and improve function. 

2) Corticosteroid injections: If the shoulder is not improving with conservative management, then in some cases an injection may be needed. The aim is to reduce pain levels whilst in the various stages of frozen shoulder. 

3) Pain medications: Consult with your GP regarding appropriate pain relief to help with day to day pain management. 


If you are experiencing pain and progressive stiffness in your shoulder, you may be suffering from frozen shoulder—a condition that typically affects people between 40 and 60 years old. The good news is that there are treatment options available that can help improve range of motion and reduce pain. 

A physiotherapist can help diagnose whether or not you have a frozen shoulder and develop a treatment plan to reduce your pain and improve your range of motion. Don’t wait – make an appointment with a physiotherapist today.

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