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Frozen Shoulder Treatment Perth (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Frozen Shoulder Treatment Perth (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Perth Shoulder Physio provides the latest in evidence based frozen shoulder treatment in Perth. In our experience, correct adhesive capsulitis treatment (the more technical term for frozen shoulder treatment) is crucial in reducing shoulder pain and stiffness. We commonly see those who have been misdiagnosed and or had incorrect frozen shoulder treatment in Perth, resulting in significant shoulder pain and dysfunction.

Note: This page contains general information about frozen shoulder. Book an appointment with Perth Shoulder Physio for accurate diagnosis and frozen shoulder management in Perth.

What is Frozen Shoulder or Adhesive Capsulitis?

At Perth Shoulder Physio we feel that neither frozen shoulder nor adhesive capsulitis are technically correct diagnoses. These terms provide misleading and inaccurate representations of the process that occurs in the shoulder during this condition. The shoulder does not freeze and it does not adhere or stick together.

A more accurate term would be shoulder capsulitis. This is because frozen shoulder involves an often unexplained and exaggerated inflammatory reaction of the shoulder capsule. Shoulder capsulitis is very painful when stretched (movement) or compressed (lying on it) and eventually thickens and contracts causing significant stiffness.

There are two types of frozen shoulder and three stages of progression for each. Frozen shoulder treatment needs to be directed towards the individual’s presentation. Unfortunately incorrect frozen shoulder treatment in Perth often does more harm than good.

Stages of Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Frozen shoulder slowly progresses through three discernible stages, which can take up to 2.5 years. The duration of each stage varies between individuals, with correct frozen shoulder management likely to reduce symptoms and improve recovery.


The freezing stage involves excessive inflammation of the shoulder capsule known as shoulder capsulitis. It is considered the painful stage of frozen shoulder.


The frozen stage implies that the inflammation and pain has settled, however the shoulder capsule is left thickened and contracted. The shoulder is very stiff but there is minimal pain.


The frozen shoulder eventually ‘thaws’ as the shoulder heals and movement gradually returns to normal.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

There are two types of frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis. The cause of each and the correct frozen shoulder management for each are very different.

Ideopathic Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis):

Ideopathic frozen shoulder develops with no easily identifiable cause. Speculation exists around potential causes such as microtrauma to the shoulder capsule, systemic illness, hormonal changes or even stress. Ideopathic frozen shoulder commonly affects those in their 50’s but can occur in anyone between the ages of 40 and 60. Interestingly it affects the non-dominant arm more commonly than the dominant arm and females, smokers and diabetics more than their counterparts.

Ideopathic frozen shoulder progresses slowly, taking up to 2.5 years to resolve.

Traumatic Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Traumatic frozen shoulder can be attributed to surgery or trauma of the shoulder, which triggers an inflammatory reaction of the shoulder capsule. The reason for the exaggerated nature of shoulder capsulitis and why some are more affected than others remains unclear.

Traumatic frozen shoulder tends to resolve much faster than idiopathic frozen shoulder, usually between 12-18 months.

Frozen Shoulder Symptoms

Frozen shoulder symptoms differ between each stage of the condition. The symptoms of frozen shoulder overlap with other shoulder injuries, commonly leading to misdiagnosis in the early stages.

Freezing Stage:

  • Gradual onset of shoulder pain when lying on the affected side and moving the shoulder in certain directions.
  • Significant worsening of shoulder pain, becoming severe with movements overhead and behind the back.
  • Significant painful loss of movement overhead, behind the back and out to the side.
  • Night pain and inability to lie on the affected shoulder.

Frozen Stage:

  • Significant restriction in shoulder movement without excessive pain.

Thawing Stage:

  • Gradually resolving stiffness.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment and Management

This section includes general advice on frozen shoulder treatment, which we hope will benefit you. Perth Shoulder Physio strongly recommends an appointment with an expert shoulder physio as incorrect frozen shoulder management can seriously increase your shoulder pain and impact your healing.

Frozen shoulder treatment must be specific to the stage of the condition.

Physiotherapy Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

Freezing Stage:

  • Short term rest from any movements that trigger shoulder pain
  • Massage or dry needling for pain relief and muscle tension
  • Taping of the shoulder for pain relief and improved function
  • Gentle shoulder movement within your comfortable range when pain is under control

Frozen and Thawing Stages:

  • Specific shoulder mobility and stretching exercises within comfortable limits
  • Massage, dry needling and other manual therapy of the shoulder
  • Correction of postural and shoulder blade abnormalities

Medical Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

Freezing Stage:

  • Anti inflammatory medication to ease inflammation and pain
  • Cortisone injection into the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint) to ease inflammation and pain

Frozen Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder exercises form a critical component of frozen shoulder management. As mentioned above, the exercises must be individually targeted depending on your movement restriction and your current stage of frozen shoulder. Generic frozen shoulder exercises can be found here.

Ready to recover and get pain free?

Your Perth Shoulder Physio is ready to help.