Shoulder Pain

Frozen Shoulder and back Pain Clinic

Shoulder pain is usually either gradual onset or sudden onset. Gradual onset shoulder injuries are often from poor technique and / or overuse whilst sudden onset can be a strain or traumatic shoulder injury caused by impact or twisting. Below we outline some of the more common shoulder injuries.

Adhesive capsulitis is the medical term for frozen shoulder which is a condition causing pain and restricted movement in the shoulder joint.

There are three phases that the condition will pass through; a freezing phase where the joint tightens up, a stiff phase where the movement in the shoulder is significantly reduced and a thawing phase where the pain gradually reduces and mobility increases.

The freezing phase of frozen shoulder symptoms start with a gradual onset of aching in the shoulder. The pain will often become more widespread and much worse at night making lying on the affected side difficult. This phase can last between 2 and 9 months.

During the second phase the shoulder joint will begin to stiffen up. The shoulder is likely to be painful still and normal day to day tasks such as dressing or carrying bags become more difficult. Shoulder muscles may start to waste away through lack of use and this may be noticeable. Symptoms during the frozen phase can last between 4 and 12 months.

During the thawing phase frozen shoulder symptoms begin to improve. Range of movement will increase and there is a gradual decrease in pain although pain may re-appear as stiffness eases for a time. The thawing phase can last 5 to 12 months.

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is a condition which affects the ability to move the shoulder usually only occurring on one side. For approximately one person in five the problem spreads to the other shoulder.

The medical term adhesive capsulitis literally describes the condition where adhesive means sticky and capsulitis meaning inflammation of the joint capsule. It is thought that a lot of the symptoms are due to the capsule becoming inflamed and sticking, making the whole joint stiff and difficult to move. This is not the same as arthritis, and no other joints are usually affected.

It is extremely uncommon in young people, and is almost always found in the 40 + age group, usually in the 40-70 age range. Approximately 3% of the population will be affected by this, with slightly higher incidence amongst women, and five times higher prevalence in diabetics.