Physical Therapy

What is Frozen Shoulder?

By February 24, 2022 March 2nd, 2022 No Comments


Frozen shoulder (also known as Adhesive Capsulitis) is a painful condition with a loss of one’s range of motion in one or both shoulders.1 This is due to the shoulder’s encasement in a buildup of connective scar tissue that begins to restrict mobility. If you’re suffering from frozen shoulder, you may have shoulder aches and pains, have difficulty sleeping or feeling tired, and you may have an increased sensitivity to touch and discomfort in the neck and upper arms. This article will examine common symptomatology, the timeline and stages, risk factors, and treatments for frozen shoulder.

 What Are Common Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder?

If you have Frozen Shoulder, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:2


  • Pain when moving the shoulder
  • Swelling of the shoulder
  • Stiffness in the shoulder
  • Difficulty sleeping because of pain
  • A feeling of weakness or loss of movement in the shoulder
  • Pain in other areas of your body
  • Problems with your balance 

What are The 3 Stages of Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)?3

Stage 1: Freezing

This stage is characterized by moderate to severe pain and gradual impairment of one’s range of motion. The duration of Stage 1 can be between 6 weeks and 9 months.

Stage 2: Frozen

This stage is characterized by a reduction in pain but a noticeable decrease in mobility in the affected shoulder(s). The duration of Stage 2 can be between 6 months and 2 years.

Stage 3: Thawing

This stage is often achieved with proper physical therapy or surgery and is characterized by a gradual return of one’s range of motion and a reduction in pain. The recovery time for Stage 3 can be between 6 months to 2 years.



What Are Common Risk Factors for Frozen Shoulder?

It’s not clear exactly what causes frozen shoulder, as each case is unique. However, some factors may increase one’s risk of developing frozen shoulder.4

The condition is more common in older adults, but it can occur at any age and in both genders. It is more common in the right shoulder than in the left and is most likely to develop if you have had a neck injury or have had surgery on your shoulder. It can also be a side effect of certain medications, such as prednisone or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

It’s also a common complication of diabetes, although not all people with diabetes experience frozen shoulder.

Frozen shoulder is more common if you have a long-standing condition such as rheumatoid arthritis. You are also more likely to develop frozen shoulder if you are overweight or have a more sedentary lifestyle.

How is Frozen Shoulder Treated?

Most frozen shoulder treatments involve controlling shoulder pain and improving the maximum range of motion in the affected shoulder.

Physical therapists can help you manage your pain with multiple modalities, manually mobilize your soft tissue and joints, teach you multiple ranges of motion and motor control exercises to help restore as much mobility in your frozen shoulder as possible. Your dedication to doing these exercises and being compliant with your visits will be vital to optimizing your recovery.

In more severe cases, surgery may be required to remove scar tissue buildups that are locking up your shoulder joint. To avoid needing surgery, it is vital to reach out to a physical therapist as soon as you begin experiencing early signs of frozen shoulder.

Choose Kintsugi Physical Therapy to Help with Frozen Shoulder.

Frozen shoulder can be very difficult to live with, but it is treatable and often well managed with conservative care. If you or someone you love suffers from frozen shoulder, it’s important to seek treatment early. Our team of experts at Kintsugi Physical Therapy can identify the underlying cause of your frozen shoulder and provide a customized plan to treat your pain and limitations. We offer a holistic approach to your recovery and tailor a specialized physical therapy program to meet your needs.

Contact us or call us at 253-330-8518 to schedule an evaluation today.


  1. Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): Signs, Diagnosis & Treatment. (2022). Retrieved from

  2. Frozen shoulder – Symptoms and causes. (2022). Retrieved from
  3. Frozen Shoulder – Adhesive Capsulitis – OrthoInfo – AAOS. (2022). Retrieved from–conditions/frozen-shoulder/
  4. Frozen Shoulder | Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. (2017). Retrieved from
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