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What is a Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition in the shoulder characterized by periods of “freezing” during which there is a progressive loss of range of motion accompanied by an increase in pain with mobility. Most commonly the most difficult movement is abduction (lifting the arm out to the side) and internal/external rotation (reaching behind the back/reaching behind the head) This is followed by a “frozen” stage in which pain decreased but the shoulder remains very stiff and range of motion is limited. The final “thawing” stage is where the range of motion and strength return slowly and activities become easier to accomplish. 

Frozen shoulder is caused by chronic inflammation in the shoulder joint, usually from periods of extended immobilization such as recovery from injury or surgery. The joint capsule surrounding the joint thickens and stiffens up, reducing the joint space and synovial fluid (joint lubrication), leading to the loss of range of motion and associated pain. This condition is most likely to affect middle-aged women (40-60) and individuals with diabetes.

The good news is that physical therapy is an excellent intervention for treating frozen shoulder! At Atlas Physical Therapy, our therapists are knowledgeable in stretches, exercises and manual techniques designed to treat frozen shoulder and reduce symptoms without surgery! These techniques will help you regain mobility and strength in your shoulder faster!