Frozen shoulder is pain, tightness and stiffness in the shoulder joint. It is also known as adhesive capsulitis or shoulder contracture.

The shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) is like a ball and socket.  A group of ligaments and connective tissue surround the joint and can become thickened, inflamed and over time cause pain, stiffness and restrict movement.  This condition can last between 1 to 3 years as it can time for inflammation to reduce and physical exercise to mobilise the joint.


There are three stages of frozen shoulder:

Stage 1 – Freezing:  slow onset of symptoms, pain increases over 6 to 9 months and movement increasing becomes restricted.

Stage 2 – Frozen: pain lessons but stiffness still remains this period usually lasts between 4 to 12 months.  Daily tasks can be difficult.

Stage 3 – Thawing: slowly range of movement improves back to normal or near normal, the stage can take 5 to 12 months.

Pain can be a dull or aching in nature and can be worse at night or when you move your arm.

This condition can have a significant affect of quality of life, affecting sleep, dressing, driving or even working.

People over 40, in particular women are more prone to developing frozen shoulder.  Also, people who have had to keep the shoulder stiff due to injury, post-surgery, stroke or who have conditions such as Parkinsons, underactive (hypothyroidism) or over active (hyperthyroidism) thyroid, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

What helps frozen shoulder:


Physical therapy when condition becomes less painful

Acupuncture can help to reduce pain, inflammation and muscle stiffness in the joint by stimulating the nerves in the muscles and tissue, which leads to the release of endorphins and changes the brains processing of pain and spinal cord.  Other benefits can reduce anxiety and stress related to having the condition and help promote sleep.