The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, sacrificing some stability for mobility. At Osteopath West  we see a number of patients displaying signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder and it is our goal to give an early diagnosis, treatment, and effective rehabilitation programme to enable the patient to regain full strength and mobility.

Frozen Shoulder, medically known as Adhesive Capsulitis, is a condition that osteopaths can help manage by increasing the range of movement in the shoulder joint which in turn will decrease pain levels. A quick diagnosis by an osteopath is very important as Frozen Shoulder is often incorrectly self-diagnosed, leading to a longer recovery period.

The NHS website states that ‘it’s often not clear why people get a frozen shoulder and that movement is limited and painful as the tissue around your shoulder joint becomes inflamed.’ Symptoms will include some (if not all) of the following:

  • An aching pain in the outer shoulder area or upper arm.
  • Stiffness in motion.
  • Restricted movement.
  • Pain will not go away (sometimes for months and/or years)
  • Pain is often worse at night.

Frozen Shoulder tends to affect around 3% of the population and most of those affected tend to be in their fifties or sixties. The pain is often in a patient’s non-dominant shoulder and does seem to occur often in patients that have had their shoulders immobilised for a lengthy period of time. This could be due to fracture, injury and sometimes, a stroke.

There is strong evidence that patients with poorly controlled diabetes are at an increased risk of developing Frozen Shoulder.

There are three stages to frozen shoulder: The freezing stage: the frozen stage and the thawing stage.

Freezing stage: This stage may last anywhere between 3 and 9 months. The pain will be felt around the shoulder joint as loss of range of movement increases. Your osteopath will provide gentle treatment during this stage as aggressive treatment may increase inflammation.

Frozen stage: This stage may last anywhere between 9 to 15 months. Stiffness is dominant and the shoulder will have very limited mobility if not treated.

Thawing stage: This stage tends to last anywhere between 15 to 18 months as the shoulder regains a pain-free range of motion.

As previously stated, an early diagnosis alongside osteopathic treatment is very important as a frozen shoulder may last up to two years without any kind of intervention.

Early diagnosis is important as the primary goal for an osteopath would be to prevent the frozen shoulder from moving from painful freezing stage 1 to the restrictive frozen stage 2.

An Osteopath will be able to help reduce pain levels and increase range of movement by effectively reducing inflammation and pain with some simple soft tissue and gentle articulation. Treatment will take place around the shoulder joint as well as helping maintain mobility around the neck and the upper back. Postural advice may also be given alongside some stretching and strengthening exercises.

If you are experiencing Frozen Shoulder then please book in to see us for advice, exercise prescription and osteopathic treatment.

If you think you might suffer from Frozen Shoulder and would like help please do not hesitate to contact us at Osteopath West.