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Why have I got frozen shoulder?

Is your shoulder feeling stiff? Think it might be frozen shoulder? Here’s what you can do if you are suffering from frozen shoulder

What is frozen shoulder?

It’s important to note that not all stiff shoulders are frozen!

Frozen shoulder is a specific condition formally known as Adhesive Capsulitis, and it has a long recovery time of 1-2 years. Getting a formal diagnosis of your shoulder condition is so important in these instances because it helps guide expectations of rehab and recovery times. If your shoulder isn’t actually frozen, we would generally expect a much quicker recovery time.

Our Physiotherapists at Total Physiotherapy are trained in diagnosing frozen shoulder with clinical tests, and can also refer you for an Xray and MRI to confirm this. Due to this, we are qualified in being the first professional to speak to if you think you could have frozen shoulder.

Who gets frozen shoulder?

Even though both men and women can get frozen shoulder, it is much more common in women, and in the age group of 40-60 years old.

Unfortunately it is hard to predict who gets this condition, and it can come on suddenly. Often it is triggered by a painful shoulder incident, such as falling onto your outstretched arm, but can also start from something more mild, like reaching into the backseat of a car.

Some people do have a genetic predisposition to getting frozen shoulder, and there are other triggers (including having existing diabetes).

Having said this, falling or outstretching your arm can cause all sorts of other shoulder issues too, that’s why it’s important to make sure we have the correct diagnosis from a physiotherapy from the get go.

You can also develop a secondary frozen shoulder, which is frozen shoulder that develops after other shoulder injuries including shoulder surgery (for example rotator cuff repair), shoulder fractures, and more.

How do I know if I should be checked for frozen shoulder? 

  • You might have had a recent painful incident with your shoulder
  • You might have a stiff shoulder when reaching away from your body in at least two directions
  • Your pain might feel deep and the whole surface area of your shoulder, rather than one specific point
  • You may experience night aching, and severe pain
  • You may have painful sensitivity to cold around your shoulder and neck

Three stages of frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder has three stages:

  1. Freezing,
  2. Frozen, and
  3. Thawing

Each stage can last 6-12 months each. Physiotherapy treatment and use of cortisone injections in each stage is quite different, so part of our diagnosis of frozen shoulder includes determining which stage you are in, so we can treat you effectively. 

If you think you or a friend might have frozen shoulder, book an assessment with one of our physiotherapists online here or call us today on 02 9907 0321.

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