Note – Gentle massage of the area can help. Refer the client to a doctor or osteopath if underlying problems such as injury to discs in the neck are indicated.

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)

The term ‘frozen shoulder’ is used to describe the condition when a shoulder becomes painful and immobilised. This condition arises if the shoulder is used incorrectly, becomes painful and the person avoids using it. Scar tissue develops that stops the shoulder moving. The shoulder may go through several stages as the scar tissue forms:


1 the painful stage, where the shoulder may ache, feel stiff and get very painful -this can last between three and eight months

2 the adhesive stage, where there may not be as much pain, but the shoulder keeps getting stiffer – this usually lasts between four and six months

3 the final recovery stage, which usually lasts between one and three months. The shoulder is not very painful but it becomes hard to move it even a little. After a while the stiffness slowly goes and the shoulder can be moved again.

As shoulder movement increases, there may still be pain at times. Sufferers usually regain full use of their shoulder, while others may always have a little stiffness and pain in that shoulder.

Note – Massage can ease tension in muscles surrounding the shoulder joint but should not be done during the painful stage. Before massaging, ensure a medical practitioner has confirmed it is frozen shoulder and not a different problem. When medically diagnosed, exercises are recommended by the doctor or physiotherapist to help break up scar tissue

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