Frozen Shoulder: The Facts
Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder: The Facts

What is Frozen Shoulder? Frozen shoulder, also known as Adhesive Capsulitis, is a gradual onset of loss of range of motion in the shoulder with pain and stiffness. This condition usually happens after a person has an upper extremity injury or is immobilized for a period after surgery or when a person protects an upper extremity injury. This means that after the surgery the patient will spend too much time holding their arm across the stomach and won’t move it because of the pain.

How can you tell that you have a frozen shoulder?

Can you raise your hands above your head?

 Are you able to reach across your body and touch your other shoulder?

Can you reach behind and scratch your back?

These are simple movements that help your doctor or physical therapist distinguish between a frozen shoulder and a rotator cuff injury. Other diagnostic options may be used such as X-ray or MRI.


The Facts:

People with frozen shoulder report their shoulder pain gets worse at night while trying to sleep. This lack of normal motion leads the shoulder capsule to thicken and get tighter which prevents movement.  This is a common injury to people over the age of 40 and is more commonly found in women.

A frozen shoulder typically develops slowly, and in three stages. Each of these stages can last a number of months, and in some cases, up to a year before the person gains normal function of that shoulder.

The first stage is the pain stage. During the pain stage, pain occurs with any movement of your shoulder, resulting in your shoulder’s range of motion becoming limited. The next stage is the “Frozen” stage.  In the frozen stage the person’s pain will start to get better.  Your shoulder feels better but your shoulder becomes stiffer and you lose more shoulder range of motion. The last stage is the “Thawing” stage. In the thawing stage you may see the range of motion in your shoulder start to improve.

Treatment of the frozen shoulder can range anywhere from medication to surgery.  Over-the-counter pain relievers to prescription medications could be prescribed. You may be sent to OSR for physical therapy to stretch out the shoulder and mobilize the shoulder joint to help increase your range of motion and to relieve some of your pain. It is possible that a steroid injection could help with the pain as well as help with range of motion.  Lastly, a surgical procedure to either manipulate the capsule (breaking up the scar tissue) may be performed in order to regain range of motion.

frozen shoulder


At Oahu Spine and Rehab we are able to come up with a physical therapy treatment plan in order to help you regain the use of your shoulder!

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions!



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