Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder Syndrome)

Adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder syndrome, is an inflammation of the shoulder capsule. The capsule becomes thickened and tight causing fibrotic adhesions (stiff bands of tissue) to develop which reduce shoulder movement. There are three stages of the condition:


  1. Stage 1 Acute “Freezing”: The freezing stage typically lasts 6 weeks to 9 months and is characterised by increasing shoulder pain and stiffness.

  2. Stage 2 Subacute “Frozen”: The frozen stage typically lasts 4 to 6 months and is characterised by unremitting stiffness and decreasing pain levels.

  3. Stage 3 Chronic “Thawing”: The thawing stage typically lasts 6 months to 2 years during which time the shoulder gradually recovers its range of motion and strength.


The cause of adhesive capsulitis is not fully understood however there are numerous factors that increase your risk of developing the condition including diabetes, thyroid disorders, Parkinson’s disease, cardiac disease, or as a result of the shoulder being kept immobile for an extended period of time such as post injury or operation. The symptoms of adhesive capsulitis include a dull or aching pain in the outer shoulder region and upper arm, made worse by movement.

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