What You Need to Know about Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Woman has shoulder pain

Are you experiencing pain in your shoulder and notice that it becomes stiffer each time you move it? If you are, then this may be the onset of a condition called frozen shoulder.

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis in medical term, is a condition that affects the shoulder’s functions and ability to move. This condition develops when the shoulder joint’s muscles become stiffer and thicker causing scar tissue to form in the long run. This then disallows the proper rotation or motion of the shoulder joint to happen.

With the right methods used, frozen shoulder can be treated. This article from PhysioActive informs about the important things that you need to know about adhesive capsulitis and what frozen shoulder treatments are available that patients in Singapore can consider.

Causes of frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder is generally caused by adhesions and inflammation in the shoulder joint due to different factors, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Imbalanced hormones
  • Formation of scar tissue
  • Prolonged shoulder inactivity in relation to an illness, a surgery or trauma
  • Spontaneous onset without a specific cause

High risk of developing frozen shoulder

Elderly woman express action of shoulder pain

Some people are more prone to developing frozen shoulder than others. These are the common risk factors:

  • Age – affects people who are over 40 years old
  • Gender – most common in women
  • Immobility – caused by arm or rotator cuff injury, as a result of stroke or recovery from a surgical procedure
  • Pre-existing health conditions – cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson’s disease and other diseases like diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and tuberculosis

Symptoms of frozen shoulder

Symptoms of a frozen shoulder include:

  • Dull pain in one shoulder including the area of the shoulder muscles that surround your top arm
  • Inability or difficulty in moving your shoulder
  • Stiffness in your shoulder

Stages of frozen shoulder

The development of a frozen shoulder undergoes three stages:

  1. Freezing stage
  2. Frozen stage
  3. Thawing stage

Freezing stage. During this initial stage, pain can be felt in the shoulder whenever it is moved. This pain continues to progress as time goes by and is usually more painful in the night time and can disrupt one’s sleep. At the same time, the shoulder’s movement begins to be limited with regard to its full reach. This stage often lasts from 6 weeks to 9 months.

Frozen stage. The pain that is felt in the shoulder may lessen, however, the muscles become stiffer. There is an increase in difficulty when it comes to moving or rotating the shoulder. Daily activities can be affected because of this. This stage often lasts from 4 to 12 months.

Thawing stage. The final stage of frozen shoulder enables the shoulder’s mobility to recover, albeit slowly. The range of motion and strength of the shoulder return progressively. Full recovery can happen anywhere from 6 months to a maximum of 2 years.

Diagnosing a frozen shoulder

If you suspect that you have a frozen shoulder in the works, immediately book a consultation with your doctor.

During your consultation, you can expect a physical exam to be done on your affected shoulder. Your doctor will check for pain in your shoulder and assess the scope of its motion (active and passive range of motion). In some cases, your doctor may ask you to undergo imaging tests, like X-rays or an MRI, to be more accurate with the diagnosis.

Treatments for a frozen shoulder

Treatment for a frozen shoulder

The goal of a frozen shoulder treatment is to manage the pain felt by the patient as well as maintaining or saving much of the shoulder’s range of motion. This can be done through the following:

  • Joint distension
  • Medications
  • Therapy
  • Shoulder manipulation
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgery

Joint distension. This method uses sterile water that is injected into the joint capsule of the shoulder in order to extend the muscle tissue and allow the joint to move easily.

Medications. Pain relievers that are bought over-the-counter can help reduce the dull pain felt in the shoulder. In some cases, doctors may prescribe drugs that have anti-inflammatory and stronger pain-relief properties.

Therapy. Manual therapy and exercises that can be conducted at home target to improve the shoulder’s range of motion and provide a quick recovery period for the treatment area.

Shoulder manipulation. This treatment is done by moving the shoulder joint in various directions in order to relax the stiff muscles. Patients will not feel any pain and will be asleep as the doctor manoeuvres the shoulder as the treatment is administered using general anaesthetic. 

Steroid injections. This treatment involves injecting corticosteroids into the shoulder during the early stage of the condition in order to ease the pain and allow the shoulder to move freely.

Surgery. This is a patient’s last resort when the frozen shoulder remains unresponsive to any kind of non-surgical treatment. The surgical procedure’s aim is to remove the scar tissue and adhesions from the joint of the shoulder.

Niel-Asher technique for frozen shoulder treatment at PhysioActive

The Niel-Asher technique is the most recent addition to PhysioActive’s frozen shoulder treatments. This technique is a natural method that uses a sequence of unique and precise manipulations and pressure points that target the soft tissues and joints of the shoulder.

Final words

Frozen shoulder can be treated in more ways than one. Remember that this condition can last for a long time, which will definitely affect your daily life in a negative way. It is best that you seek your doctor’s help during its first stage so as not to allow the condition to worsen.


Camden Medical Centre #11-05
Singapore 248649
+65 6235 2647