physiotherapy for frozen shoulder surrey

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. It can severely limit your range of motion and affect daily activities. Physiotherapy is a highly effective treatment for frozen shoulder, offering targeted exercises and therapies to restore mobility and reduce pain. This blog post explores what frozen shoulder is, how physiotherapy helps, the expected healing timeline, and the role of massage therapy in treatment.


What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition where the shoulder joint becomes stiff and painful, leading to a significant reduction in its range of motion. This condition progresses through three stages: 

  • Freezing Stage: During this initial phase, shoulder pain gradually increases, and the range of motion becomes limited. 
  • Frozen Stage: Pain may begin to diminish during this phase, but the shoulder remains stiff. Daily activities become challenging, and the inability to move the shoulder persists. 
  • Thawing Stage: In this final phase, the shoulder slowly regains its range of motion. 

Frozen shoulder often develops after an injury or surgery, especially when the shoulder has been immobilized for an extended period. It is more common in individuals aged 40 to 60 and those with certain medical conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disorders.


How Physiotherapy Helps Treat Frozen Shoulder

Physiotherapy is a cornerstone treatment for frozen shoulder, offering a range of techniques to help restore shoulder mobility and reduce pain. Here’s how physiotherapy can assist in treating frozen shoulder:

  • Initial Assessment: A physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the stage of frozen shoulder and the severity of the condition. This helps in creating a personalized treatment plan.
  • Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques, such as joint mobilizations and stretches, are used to improve shoulder mobility and flexibility. These techniques help to loosen the tight joint capsule and reduce stiffness.
  • Therapeutic Exercises: Specific exercises are designed to restore movement in the shoulder joint. These exercises focus on gradually increasing the range of motion and strengthening the shoulder muscles.
  • Pain Management: Modalities such as heat therapy and shockwave therapy can help reduce pain and inflammation, making it easier to perform exercises.
  • Education and Advice: Physiotherapists provide guidance on proper posture, ergonomic adjustments, and activity modifications to prevent further aggravation of the shoulder.

By combining these techniques, physiotherapy helps to improve shoulder function, reduce pain, and expedite the recovery process.


The Healing Timeline for a Frozen Shoulder 

The healing timeline for a frozen shoulder can vary widely depending on the severity of the condition, the individual’s overall health, and their response to treatment. Generally, recovery from frozen shoulder is a gradual process that can take anywhere from several months to a few years. 

The initial freezing stage can last anywhere from six weeks to nine months. Physiotherapy during this time focuses on managing pain and maintaining as much mobility as possible to prevent further stiffness.

The condition then progresses to the frozen stage. This stage typically lasts from four to twelve months. Continued physiotherapy is crucial in this phase to prevent further stiffness and to begin restoring movement. 

The final thawing stage can last from six months to two years, and with consistent physiotherapy, you can expect gradual improvement in shoulder mobility. The focus of physiotherapy during this phase is on strengthening the shoulder muscles and increasing flexibility to restore full function.

The exact timeline for recovery can vary. However, regular physiotherapy sessions and adherence to prescribed home exercises can significantly improve recovery timelines.


The Role of Massage Therapy in Treating Frozen Shoulder

Massage therapy can be a beneficial adjunct to physiotherapy in treating a frozen shoulder. Here’s how massage therapy helps:

  • Relieves Muscle Tension: Massage helps to relax the muscles around the shoulder joint, reducing tension and stiffness.
  • Improves Blood Circulation: Enhanced circulation promotes healing by delivering oxygen and nutrients to the affected area.
  • Reduces Pain: Gentle massage techniques can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with frozen shoulder.
  • Enhances Mobility: By loosening tight muscles and tissues, massage can improve the shoulder’s range of motion and complement the effects of physiotherapy.

When combined with physiotherapy, massage therapy provides a holistic approach to treating frozen shoulder, addressing both the symptoms and underlying causes of the condition.


Exercises to Avoid with a Frozen Shoulder

When dealing with a frozen shoulder, it is crucial to avoid certain exercises that could exacerbate the condition or cause further injury. Activities that involve sudden or jerky movements should be avoided, as they can increase pain and inflammation in the shoulder joint. 

Overhead exercises or heavy lifting can also place excessive strain on the shoulder and should be avoided during the early stages of treatment. Exercises that require extensive use of the shoulder muscles, such as push-ups, pull-ups, or heavy weightlifting, are not recommended until significant improvement in mobility and pain reduction is achieved. It’s important to follow the advice of a physiotherapist to ensure that your exercise routine is safe and effective.


Best Exercises for a Frozen Shoulder

Exercise plays a pivotal role in recovery from frozen shoulder. Beneficial exercises include:

  • Pendulum Exercise: Stand beside a table or chair and lean forward slightly, using your unaffected arm for support. Let the affected arm hang down freely. Gently swing your arm in small circles, about a foot in diameter, starting with clockwise motions and then switching to counterclockwise. Perform this exercise for about 5-10 minutes daily, gradually increasing the diameter of the circles as your shoulder mobility improves.
  • Towel Stretch: Hold a towel behind your back with both hands, one hand holding the top end and the other holding the bottom. Use your good arm to pull the affected arm upward, stretching the shoulder gently. Repeat 10-20 times daily.
  • Finger Walk: Stand facing a wall and place your fingers on the wall at waist height. Slowly walk your fingers up the wall as high as you comfortably can, keeping your arm slightly bent. Then walk your fingers back down. Repeat 10-20 times daily.

These exercises are designed to gradually increase the range of motion and strengthen the shoulder without causing pain.


Supporting Frozen Shoulder Treatment With Home Care

Managing frozen shoulder pain at home involves a combination of rest, gentle exercises, and pain relief strategies. Here are some effective methods:

  • Heat Therapy: Applying a warm compress or heating pad to the shoulder can help relax tight muscles and reduce pain. Heat therapy is especially beneficial before performing exercises or stretches.
  • Cold Therapy: Using an ice pack can help reduce inflammation and numb the painful area. Apply the ice pack for 15-20 minutes several times a day, especially after exercising.
  • Gentle Stretching: Regularly performing gentle stretches, as recommended by a physiotherapist, can help maintain shoulder mobility and prevent stiffness.
  • Maintain Good Posture: Keeping a good posture can help alleviate strain on the shoulder. Avoid slouching and ensure your workspace is ergonomically set up to support your posture.

By incorporating these home management strategies, you can alleviate pain and support the recovery process for a frozen shoulder.


Live Life to the Fullest With Enhanced Shoulder Mobility

Frozen shoulder can significantly impact your quality of life, but with the right treatment, recovery is achievable. Physiotherapy offers effective techniques to restore shoulder mobility and reduce pain. If you are experiencing symptoms of a frozen shoulder, consider Pure Life Physiotherapy & Health Centre in Surrey. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and our team of experienced physiotherapists will help you achieve optimal shoulder health.