ISOMATIC Integrative Health Centre


Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, medically termed adhesive capsulitis, is a condition causing pain, stiffness, and restricted motion in the shoulder joint. This informative guide sheds light on its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and available treatments to provide a comprehensive understanding of this challenging condition.

What Is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder refers to the inflammation and tightening of the shoulder capsule, leading to stiffness and reduced mobility in the shoulder joint. It typically progresses through stages of pain, stiffness, and eventual improvement.


  • Persistent Pain: Dull or aching pain in the shoulder, often more intense during the night.
  • Stiffness: Gradual onset of stiffness, making simple movements challenging.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Difficulty in performing everyday activities requiring shoulder movement, like reaching overhead or behind the back.


  • Inflammation and Thickening: The shoulder capsule thickens and tightens due to inflammation, restricting movement.
  • Risk Factors: Diabetes, prior shoulder injury, or certain medical conditions increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder.


Frozen shoulder is diagnosed through:

  • Physical Examination: Assessing range of motion and shoulder strength.
  • Imaging Tests: X-rays or MRI to eliminate other potential causes and confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment Options

  • Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications to alleviate discomfort.
  • Physical Therapy: Prescribed exercises and stretches to enhance flexibility and restore shoulder mobility.
  • Heat or Cold Therapy: Application of heat or cold packs to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: In severe cases, injections to reduce inflammation and improve mobility.
  • Surgery (Rarely): Surgery might be considered for persistent cases where other treatments haven’t been effective.

Self-Care and Management

  • Shoulder Exercises: Regularly performing prescribed exercises aids in regaining shoulder movement.
  • Medication: Adhering to prescribed pain-relief medications as directed.
  • Heat or Cold Therapy: At-home application of heat or cold packs for pain relief.

Frozen shoulder can be a debilitating condition, but with appropriate treatment and self-care, significant improvements in pain and shoulder mobility are achievable over time. Seeking professional medical guidance and adhering to prescribed treatments and exercises are crucial steps towards recovery.

Scarborough in Toronto

Andrew Chan, R.H.N., DOMP, B.Sc., DO (Euro)

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