physiotherapy treatment for frozen shoulder oshawa

Physiotherapy Solutions for Overcoming Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a challenging and often painful condition. Characterized by stiffness and loss of motion in the shoulder, it can severely impact an individual’s daily life and activities. This blog explores the role of physiotherapy treatments for managing frozen shoulder

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition related to the tightening of the shoulder capsule which leads to pain and loss of functional range. More prevalent in women than men, this condition can drastically affect one’s lifestyle. It limits the ability to perform simple tasks like reaching overhead or behind the back and is often accompanied by a significant amount of discomfort or pain.

Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

Understanding the symptoms of frozen shoulder can aid in early assessment and treatment. Here are the key indicators:

  • Pain: Initially, the most noticeable symptom may be persistent pain in the shoulder.
  • Stiffness: The shoulder becomes very hard to move. Attempting to move it might increase the pain.
  • Reduced Range of Motion: There’s a significant decrease in how far you can move your shoulder in different directions.

The Causes of Frozen Shoulder

There is no definite cause of frozen shoulder. In its primary type, the condition is idiopathic in nature, i.e., the exact cause is unknown. However, if it is a secondary type, it is associated with conditions like diabetes, repetitive shoulder injuries, and post-op surgery for the shoulder. This ambiguity in the causes makes frozen shoulder a particularly complex condition to treat.

Known Triggers and Risk Factors

Several factors can increase the likelihood of developing frozen shoulder:

  • Age and Gender: Most common in people aged 40 to 60, and more prevalent in women.
  • Medical Conditions: Particularly diabetes, thyroid diseases, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Immobilization: Periods of immobilization, such as post-surgery or an arm fracture.
  • Previous Shoulder Injury: Having had an injury to the shoulder that limits your ability to move your shoulder can be a precursor to developing frozen shoulder.

Treating Frozen Shoulder with Physiotherapy

While there is no definitive treatment pattern to cure adhesive capsulitis, physiotherapy plays a major role in reducing the pain and getting the functional range back to normal. Frozen shoulder usually causes mechanical disruption in the upper extremity, which leads to neck pain, scapular muscle weakness, and upper back pain. All of these factors can be treated effectively with physiotherapy. Treatment encompasses various treatment approaches, each playing a crucial role in recovery:

  • Manual Therapy: Involves hands-on techniques to mobilize the joints and soft tissues in the shoulder. This can help reduce pain and improve movement in the shoulder.
  • Targeted Exercises: Exercises such as pendulum stretches, towel stretches, and crossover arm stretches, aimed at improving range of motion and strengthening shoulder muscles.

How do Physiotherapists Treat Frozen Shoulder?

Let’s take a closer look at how physiotherapists treat frozen shoulder symptoms.

  • Lifestyle Modification Advice: Education regarding the condition and management with modifications at work and home. Understanding the nature of adhesive capsulitis is the first step toward recovery. Your therapist can provide essential advice on adjusting daily routines to avoid aggravating the condition.
  • Pain Management: Pain relief is usually the main concern for patients. We address this by using different electrical modalities and manual therapy. 
  • Range of Motion: Customized exercise programs are developed to address specific areas of stiffness and improve overall shoulder mobility. Range of motion can be improved with mobilization and targeted stretching of specific muscles that experience tightness during the various stages of frozen shoulder. 
  • Strengthening of Muscles: Muscles that may not be working efficiently due to pain are strengthened. By focusing on strengthening the surrounding muscles, you can see an improvement in shoulder support and a decrease in pain levels.

Things to Avoid With a Frozen Shoulder

If you are struggling with frozen shoulder, there are some activities and movements you should avoid to prevent exacerbation of the condition and enable faster recovery.

  • Sleeping On Your Side: Avoid sleeping on your side in the early stages of the condition, as this can cause inflammation of the tissues. Opting for a back-sleeping position can help reduce stress on the shoulder.
  • Acute Injuries: Try to protect your shoulder and any inflamed tissue from external blows or injury. This includes being mindful of activities that might put the shoulder at risk.
  • Stress: Recovery from adhesive capsulitis is a long and frustrating process. It is important to keep a level head throughout the recovery process and avoid stress, as it can worsen symptoms. 

How Can I Speed Up the Healing of a Frozen Shoulder?

The recovery time for frozen shoulder varies from one patient to the next and what stage of the condition they are in. It is important to adopt a holistic approach to treatment, with different elements working together. This ensures faster, more effective recovery. To help your shoulder recover faster, you must be consistent with prescribed exercises, communicate openly with the clinicians involved in your care, and avoid stress. Additionally, incorporating lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet and ensuring adequate rest can complement physiotherapy treatments and expedite recovery.

Your Partner in Frozen Shoulder Recovery

Frozen shoulder can be a debilitating condition, but with the right approach, relief is within reach. At Therapeutic Streams, we combine knowledge, innovative treatments, and a client-centred approach to help restore your shoulder’s health and improve your quality of life. Our dedicated team of physiotherapists in Oshawa is committed to providing effective treatment plans personalized to your unique needs. Contact us today to schedule your consultation. Let us help you take the first step towards a pain-free life.


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