Frozen Shoulder

 by Mr Ben Gooding

What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder or ‘capsulitis’ is a condition that causes pain and restricted movement of your shoulder joint. It occurs in 2- 5% of the general population.

It can be caused by a range of things including accidents and is associated with conditions such as diabetes. For many people no cause is found, however. The pain and stiffness are caused by thickening and inflammation of the lining of the shoulder joint (capsule).


A frozen shoulder can last from one to two years. Generally, it is found to be a self-limiting disorder, which means that it usually gets better by itself, given enough time.

In most people, the condition goes through three stages lasting approximately 9 to 18 months in total.

Stage 1 = Freezing phase (Approx 3 months):
Pain and loss of movement

Stage 2 = Frozen phase (from approx 3 – 9 months)
Pain at the extreme range of movement and marked stiffness

Stage 3 = Thawing phase (from approx 9 – 18 months)
Painless with stiffness improving

For those with significant difficulty, the doctor may consider a steroid injection into the shoulder joint. This may settle the pain. However, some people continue to have a stiff and painful shoulder. In these cases, either a ‘manipulation under anaesthetic’ or an ‘arthroscopic release’ may be considered