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Frozen Shoulder Treatment (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Frozen Shoulder Treatment (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Did you know that we commonly see those who have been misdiagnosed and had incorrect frozen shoulder treatment in Perth? This can result in significant shoulder pain and dysfunction.

If you feel like you might have frozen shoulder, you’ve been recently diagnosed and want a second opinion, or you’re just not quite sure, and need some guidance, you’ve landed on the right page.

We know how frustrating and painful frozen shoulder can be, and are here to help!

In fact, here at Perth Shoulder Physio, we pride ourselves on not only being experts in all things shoulder, but all things frozen shoulder. We can confidently diagnose the condition (or rule it out), educate you about the condition and what to expect, and provide much needed pain relief and the correct exercises for your journey to a ‘frozen shoulder free’ life.  Hundreds of frozen shoulders have thawed out with our high level of experience and expertise.

We also provide the latest in evidence based frozen shoulder treatment in Perth. And, in our experience, correct adhesive capsulitis treatment (the more technical term for frozen shoulder treatment) is crucial in reducing shoulder pain and stiffness.

Read on to find out more about frozen shoulder or simply skip ahead to your diagnosis, treatment and pain relief, by booking an appointmentwith your Perth Shoulder Physio today.

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?

The terms ‘frozen shoulder’ and ‘adhesive capsulitis’ can be quite misleading.

Why? Because the shoulder does not freeze, nor does it adhere or stick together.

A more accurate term would be shoulder capsulitis, because frozen shoulder involves an excessive inflammatory reaction of the shoulder capsule.

There are two types of frozen shoulder and three stages of progression for each and 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

Frozen shoulder slowly progresses through three discernible stages, which can take up to 3 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’s considered the painful stage of frozen shoulder.


The frozen stage implies that the inflammation and pain has settled, but 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.

What causes Frozen Shoulder?

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.

Primary Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Primary 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. Primary frozen shoulder commonly affects those 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.

Left untreated, primary frozen shoulder is a chronic, long-term condition, taking up to 3 years to resolve.

Secondary Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Secondary 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 remain unclear.

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

What are the symptoms of Frozen Shoulder?

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.

How is Frozen Shoulder treated?

This section includes general advice on frozen shoulder treatment that may benefit you.

We strongly recommend you book an appointment with an expert shoulder physio, as incorrect frozen shoulder management can seriously increase your shoulder pain, prolong your recovery and impact healing.

Treatment must be specific to the stage of the condition.

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

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

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. Aggressive movement exercises in the early stages of frozen shoulder will make the condition worse.

Thaw your frozen shoulder

In our experience, with the correct treatment, frozen shoulder can resolve in a fraction of the time of those that are left untreated.

Ready to thaw your frozen shoulder for some much-needed relief?

Book your treatment today for a personalised treatment plan, to get you on your way to some much-needed pain relief and back to doing all the things you love.


Ready to recover and get pain free?

Your Perth Shoulder Physio is ready to help.