Frozen Shoulder Therapy

man suffering from pain on right shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a common condition that causes stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. Various treatments are available that cater to managing symptoms and supporting healthy mobility, aiming to reduce discomfort and enhance day-to-day functionality.

Manage Frozen Shoulder Discomfort

Living with a frozen shoulder could impact your ability to perform daily activities and lower your overall quality of life. Hence, it is advised to consult a healthcare professional to manage the pain and discomfort associated with the condition.

Causes and Risk Factors

Determining the exact causes of a frozen shoulder can be complex; often, there is no apparent cause, termed primary frozen shoulder. 

In some cases, a frozen shoulder may stem from inflammation. This occurs when the joint capsule in the shoulder becomes fibrotic and shrinks, thus restricting movement and leading to stiffness.

While the causes may be undetermined, there are possible risk factors that may increase the likelihood of a frozen shoulder from developing. These include:

  • Age & Gender: Commonly affects adults over 40, especially women.
  • Diseases & Illnesses: More frequent among those with endocrine disorders such as diabetes, thyroid issues, or Parkinson’s disease, and post-surgical patients.
  • Immobility: Secondary frozen shoulder may develop after prolonged immobilisation following an injury.
man with black shirt suffering from pain on left shoulder

Therapy Options for Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder may be managed with non-surgical approaches, such as:

  • Stretching exercises to maintain mobility and prevent muscle atrophy.
  • Oral anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Physiotherapy techniques such as trigger point massage, ultrasound, and heat therapy.
  • Corticosteroid injections to address inflammation and pain.
  • Hydrodilatation, where saline is injected into the shoulder joint to potentially loosen adhesions.
  • Manipulation under anaesthesia to break joint adhesions.

Alternatively, a frozen shoulder may also be treated through surgery. This procedure, called an “arthroscopy” is performed under anaesthesia. The surgery involves cutting scar tissue and moving the shoulder through its full range with the aim of supporting optimal motion. Pain management and physiotherapy may also be prescribed for post-surgical rehabilitation.

How a Frozen Shoulder is Diagnosed

The diagnosis of a frozen shoulder typically involves a physical examination, discussions about symptoms, and a review of medical history. Further tests, such as nerve conduction studies or electromyography, might also be conducted to rule out other diseases. Additionally, imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans may be conducted to explore other potential underlying causes.

athlete in singlet showing his shoulders

How to Prevent Frozen Shoulders

Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevent frozen shoulders as some cases may not have a direct cause. However, if you are recovering from surgery or injury and are looking to lessen the likelihood of developing a frozen shoulder, it is advised to do gentle, progressive range-of-motion exercises and stretching. These exercises should be performed under the supervision of your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions About Frozen Shoulder Treatments

Some individuals may regain significant movement. However, a full recovery depends on several factors, including the therapy approach, the patient's health condition, and adherence to the prescribed therapies.

As all bodies and conditions are unique, the healing duration for a frozen shoulder varies widely among individuals. This may be influenced by the severity of the condition, the therapies employed, and the patient's overall health and response to the therapy.

Untreated frozen shoulders can lead to prolonged discomfort, severely restricted shoulder movement, and potential long-term disability. Hence, it is recommended to seek professional advice to address the condition and manage the chronic pain caused by this condition.

Therapists for Frozen Shoulder

hong-kai's profile photo

Darren Choo

Clinic Director and Chief Physiotherapist

  • APA Titled Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, MACP
  • Master of Clinical Physiotherapy (Musculoskeletal), Curtin University (Australia)
  • Master of Physiotherapy, University of Sydney (Australia)
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise & Sports Science), University of Sydney (Australia)
  • Member of the Australian College of Physiotherapists and Australian Physiotherapy Association
  • Full registration with the Allied Health Professions Council, Singapore and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
  • GEMt Advanced Dry Needling Practitioner

As Clinic Director and Chief Physiotherapist, Ng Hong Kai, an APA Titled Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, has over a decade of experience. Holding degrees from Curtin and Sydney Universities (not a medical or detail qualification), his knowledge is enhanced by his role as a GEMt Advanced Dry Needling Practitioner. His dedication to ongoing education ensures personalised care for patients with musculoskeletal needs.

Daren Choo - Sports Massage Therapist Profile Photo

Darren Choo

Principal Sports Massage Therapist​

  • Diploma in Pearson BTEC Level 3 Body Massage
  • Workforce International Skills Certification (WISC) Certified Sports Massage Therapist
  • Certified in Trigger Point Therapy, Myofascial Release, Stretch Therapy 
  • Movement & Performance Therapy Specialist

Principal Sports Massage Therapist Darren Choo is trained in addressing musculoskeletal conditions. He employs techniques like trigger point therapy, clinical dry cupping, myofascial scraping (instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilisation) and PNF stretching to help patients manage pain and support mobility. Daren is also able to perform a relaxing deep tissue massage to aid with general stress and fatigue.

Find Strategies to Manage Frozen Shoulders