Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder

What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, which is also known as adhesive capsulitis, leads to a pain and stiffness in the shoulder. A capsule surrounding the shoulder joint thickens and tightens, which contributes to difficult and painful arm movements. Frozen shoulder is more likely to affect women than men and more often occurs between 40-60 years of age.

What causes frozen shoulder?

The cause of frozen shoulder is not well understood; however, factors contributing to increased risk of developing frozen shoulder include a health history of diabetes, heart disease, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and Parkinson’s disease. The risk of developing frozen shoulder may also develop after period of shoulder immobilization, such as prolonged use of a sling after shoulder surgery.

Three stages of Frozen Shoulder:


The freezing stage may last from 6 weeks up to 9 months. During this stage, pain begins in the shoulder and may worsen. The shoulder loses range of motion.


This stage typically occurs during 4-6months after onset of symptoms. Shoulder pain may improve during this stage; however, stiffness in the shoulder may remain relatively unchanged.


This stage may occur between 6 months to 2 years from initial onset of symptoms. During this phase, range of motion and strength begins to return.



Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to help regain shoulder range of motion and decrease pain throughout any of the stages of frozen shoulder. Ninety percent of individuals respond well with conservative treatment (ex. physical therapy) without requiring surgical intervention. Physical therapists at Two Trees Physical Therapy can help guide you throughout the stages of frozen shoulder through exercise prescription tailored to improve your range of motion and strength. Improvements in these areas will enable you to return to work and get you back to doing what you enjoy!


Cyndy Rivera PT, DPT

Doctor of Physical Therapy

I graduated from California State University, Sacramento in 2015 with a doctorate in physical therapy. I obtained my Bachelor and Master degrees in Kinesiology from California State University, Northridge in 2008 and 2012, respectively. I joined the Two Trees team in 2015. I enjoy running, yoga and spending time with my family. I enjoy helping individuals decrease pain to enable return to their normal routine including return to exercise and sport activities.