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Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a painful condition that results in stiffness of the shoulder joint.  A frozen shoulder can develop without any cause but it can also occur after an injury or  surgery. The shoulder joint is surrounded by a joint capsule. The joint capsule is normally flexible and loose which allows the shoulder joint to move freely.  In a frozen shoulder the capsule becomes thickened and inflamed. This causes the shoulder to become painful and stiff. The frozen shoulder will usually have three phases:

  1. Freezing: pain develops and this can be severe
  2. Frozen: pain eases but the shoulder is very stiff
  3. Thawing: gradually movement returns


Frozen shoulders can get better in time without any treatment. There are treatments that can help with the pain and to maintain or improve your shoulder movement. These include pain relief and gentle exercises. Some patients may be referred for a course of physiotherapy. If you feel you are unable to cope with your symptoms you may be referred to the MSK service or a surgeon to discuss other treatment.


Video: Correct Shoulder Posture

Video: Table Slide

Video: Wall slide - Cuff Activation

Video: External Rotation Stretch - Sitting

Video: External Rotation Stretch - Lying

Video: Sleeper Stretch

BESS Advice

Video: Frozen shoulder BESS advice/exercise

Why does my shoulder still hurt?

Video: Why does my shoulder still hurt?

When to seek advice

If you have severe pain affecting your sleep and daily activities, if you have had a serious injury or you have symptoms that have not improved with self-management, you should contact your GP practice. If you have a red, hot swollen joint please ring 111