Have questions about frozen shoulder or shoulder stiffness? Read this.

Frozen Shoulder: Is it a Mystery Cold Case?

Frozen Shoulder. It seems like a buzz word almost, we hear this phrase so often. Does it have to do with temperature? Does it apply to any condition affecting the shoulder? Is it more specific than that?

We will answer your questions on frozen shoulder syndrome and shoulder stiffness.  We will explain how you can find relief if you are currently suffering from these symptoms.

What is Frozen Shoulder?  Can My Shoulder Stiffness Be Fixed?

Frozen Shoulder syndrome, also known as adhesive capsulitis,  is a specific set of signs and symptoms dealing with pain and shoulder stiffness. The shoulder capsule is a thick net of connective tissue wrapping around the shoulder joint and the attachments of the rotator cuff. In frozen shoulder, this begins to thicken and tighten,  limiting movement and creating pain at the shoulder. Different conditions affecting the shoulder are often mistaken for or grouped into the title, “frozen shoulder,” when they may have other sources. In true frozen shoulder, movement at the  shoulder may not be possible without the help of an out outside force, either your own help or the help of someone else.

Learn more about frozen shoulder here.


shoulder stiffness pic
Frozen Shoulder Anatomy: Shoulder capsule covering joint.                                                                                     Reproduced and modified from The Body Almanac. (c) American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2003.


Do I have Frozen Shoulder?

Only a trained medical doctor or physical therapist can accurately identify and diagnose frozen shoulder syndrome.  Often this is caused by protectively holding the shoulder still after a shoulder injury or shoulder surgery. Keeping the shoulder moving while in recovery is important to prevent shoulder stiffness. If you suspect that your symptoms match the symptoms below, you should talk to your doctor about therapy options to address the issue. She will be able to confirm that it is frozen shoulder.

The Chilling Symptoms:

-Dull, aching pain on the outside of shoulder and in upper arm.

-Pain worsens with movement of arm.

-Shoulder stiffness with limited to no possible movement of shoulder without outside help.

Get Help Now Before the Freeze Sets In

It’s important to  seek help for frozen shoulder because the consequences of waiting are grave. If left untreated, shoulder stiffness could progress to complete immobility of the shoulder. Doctors may have to resort to invasive surgery to correct the problem. However, more than 90% of patients find improvement with simple, nonsurgical treatments. It may be a serious condition, but the solution can be simple.The therapy options available to patients include pain therapy, joint mobilization, joint capsule and muscle stretching, strengthening programs, and other noninvasive methods.  We treat a whole range of shoulder issues, including frozen shoulder syndrome. Our protocol for shoulder injuries is direct and effective. Be wary of other clinics claiming, “No pain, no gain.” Your treatment should lead to improvement and less pain. We can help with both. Learn more about our methods for shoulder treatment on our website.

Words from an Expert

We’ll leave you with some word from our one of our expert PT’s. We asked Adam Cecil, Doctor of Physical Therapy, about the importance of seeking frozen shoulder treatment. Dr. Cecil says, “Early mobility leads to functional gains.” This means that starting treatment now can save you pain and stiffness later. Time is of the essence. Don’t wait, act now!

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-Written by Becca Chamberlain, LMT, RYT

About the Author Tim Burnell, PT

Tim Burnell is the Lead Physical Therapist at Back In Motion Sarasota. He has over two decades of clinical experience. He takes pride in getting to the root of the problem which helps get his clients better...Faster! He is a family man & enjoys spending time with the love of his life, Monique. He has 2 children & a dog named Annie. Tim's son, Andre' is 11 years old and his daughter Joliebelle (nicknamed Pooky) is 7 years old. He enjoys visiting his wife's side of the family in New Orleans and his side of the family in Vermont. Tim grew up in Vermont, went to Physical Therapy School in Alabama, got his first job at Tulane Hospital in New Orleans and moved to Sarasota Florida after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

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