Frozen Shoulder

Adhesive Capsulitis, commonly known as ‘Frozen Shoulder’, is characterized by painful and limited range of motion of the shoulder. The condition most commonly affects one shoulder at a time, but in up to 14% of cases it can occur bilaterally. Frozen Shoulder is estimated to affect between 2-5% of the population, but increases by up to 38% in people with diabetic and thyroid issues. 


Signs and symptoms often begin gradually, and can worsen over time. Frozen shoulder may be described as significant loss of active and passive shoulder movement in more than one plane. People often describe pain with movement of the shoulder. Oftentimes, it is accompanied by significant pain at night. Those with frozen shoulder often have difficulty performing overhead activities, grooming, dressing, and particularly fastening items behind the back.  

Causes/ Risk Factors

Age – More common in people between the ages of 40 and 65

Gender – More common in females

Prior Incidence – If an individual has frozen shoulder, their risk of having it in the opposite shoulder increases by up to 34%

Comorbidities – More common in those with other medical conditions including diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke etc. 

Immobility/ Reduced Mobility – Rotator cuff tears/tendinopathies, arthritis, cervical disc issues, and surgeries including mastectomy may increase the risk of frozen shoulder

Physiotherapy Management 

Treatment for frozen shoulder aims to reduce pain, increase range of motion and strength, and improve function of the affected shoulder. Our Physiotherapists can tailor treatment for each individual based on pain and level of function. There are a number of manual therapies that can be applied to improve symptoms including soft tissue release, joint mobilisations, acupuncture etc. 

Our Physiotherapists will also prescribe an progressive exercise programme including gentle stretching and scapular stabilization exercises to improve function. The application of moist heat before or during exercise has been shown to relax tissues and improve muscle extensibility. 

Laser Therapy

Studies have shown that a course of laser therapy can significantly reduce both pain at night and with activity. It has also been shown improve shoulder movement and function in those suffering from frozen shoulder. At Ratoath Physiotherapy, we use Class IV Laser Therapy which works to reduce pain and inflammation, and encourage the growth of new, healthy tissue. With the laser, the patient will feel a warm gentle heat once applied and is a totally pain-free treatment option.  

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