What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen Shoulder, or ‘adhesive capsulitis’ is an extremely painful condition in which the shoulder becomes slowly and increasingly immobile. The condition can occur out of the blue but often follows a mild injury to the shoulder, such as falling onto the outstretched hand.

Jarring through the shoulder may start off the process and then the joint capsule surrounding the shoulder becomes inflamed, swollen and contracted. Unfortunately, approximately 10% of patients with a frozen shoulder develop the condition on the other side within five years.

The term frozen shoulder is often misused and there are many other conditions that cause pain in the shoulder, such as tendonitis, bursitis, referred pain from the neck, muscle damage and wear and tear. It is very important to make sure that your pain is accurately diagnosed as quickly as possible to avoid long-term or even permanent reduction of arm movement.

There are some more serious problems that can also refer pain to the shoulder including inflammation of the gall bladder (right shoulder) and heart problems (left shoulder and arm only).

Your chiropractor is trained to differentiate between all the different signs and symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis.

What causes shoulder pain?

Pain associated with a frozen shoulder is usually over the shoulder joint itself and sometimes in the top of the arm. The pain comes on slowly and is not always associated with injury.

The most important symptom is severe and unrelenting pain, often worse at night. This will interfere with normal activities such as hair care, fastening a bra or tucking clothes into trousers. Examination will show severe restriction in raising the arm and rotating it both outwards and inwards.

In many cases, by the time people seek help, they are depressed and sleep-deprived.

There are three stages to this condition:

Stage 1: Increased pain on movement, often worse at night and gradual reduction in mobility. This first phase can last up to 12 months.

Stage 2: Pain begins to diminish but there is very little mobility in the shoulder. This can also last up to 12 months.

Stage 3: Mobility partially returns over a period of up to 36 months, but without active treatment most people never regain full mobility.


Chiropractor shoulder pain will focus the treatment on reducing the inflammation in the joint, restoring mobility and maintaining flexibility with a series of exercises, electrical techniques such as TENS and interferential may also be used. In extreme cases, it may be advantageous to refer patients for a corticosteroid injection in the early stages, although this is not always helpful.

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You would benefit from seeing a chiropactor if you have any of the following symptoms

Inability to carry objects, use or raise the arm, injury that causes deformity of the joint, shoulder pain that occurs at night or while resting, shoulder pain that persists beyond a few days, swelling or significant bruising around the joint or arm or signs of an infection, including fever, redness or warmth.

It is a common misconception that chiropractors only treat back and neck conditions. Here are just a few of other the conditions chiropractors treat day-to-day

Tennis elbow

The term ‘Tennis elbow’ is used to describe pain found on the outer part of the elbow and the upper part of the forearm.

The pain is due to inflammation of the tendon and bony protuberance at the outer part of the elbow.

Tennis elbow is an overuse injury that rarely comes from playing tennis, it is more likely to occur from gardening or DIY!

Headaches & migraines

More than 10% of the UK’s population suffers from headaches. They are the most frequent reason people seek medical advice.

There are over 20 varieties of headache, but the most commonly treated are migraine, tension, and cluster.

Your chiropractor for headaches will advise on the best headache and migraine treatment for you.