Frozen Shoulder: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

At Get Back Physiotherapy Clinic, we understand the impact of musculoskeletal conditions on your daily life. In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of frozen shoulder, a common condition that can cause shoulder pain and restricted range of motion.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of frozen shoulder, our team of experts, including skilled massage therapists in Etobicoke, can provide effective treatments to help you get back to your active lifestyle.

1. What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation and thickening of the shoulder capsule. The shoulder capsule is a network of ligaments and connective tissues that surround and support the shoulder joint. When this capsule becomes inflamed, it can lead to the formation of scar tissue, resulting in restricted movement and pain.

2. Causes of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. The exact cause of frozen shoulder is not fully understood, but several factors have been identified as possible contributors to its development:

Inflammation and thickening of the shoulder capsule: The shoulder joint is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue that helps hold it together. In frozen shoulder, this capsule becomes inflamed and thickened. The inflammation leads to the formation of scar tissue and adhesions within the capsule, causing it to tighten and restrict the movement of the joint.

Explanation of the shoulder capsule: The shoulder capsule is a fibrous structure that encloses the shoulder joint, providing stability and support. It consists of ligaments, tendons, and synovial fluid, which lubricate the joint.

How inflammation leads to the formation of scar tissue: Inflammation triggers the release of certain substances that stimulate the production of fibrous tissue.

Over time, this fibrous tissue accumulates and forms adhesions within the shoulder capsule, restricting its mobility.

Possible risk factors for developing frozen shoulder:

Age and gender: Frozen shoulder is more commonly seen in individuals over the age of 40, with the highest incidence occurring between 40 and 60 years old. Women also appear to be at a slightly higher risk of developing the condition than men.

Certain medical conditions: Certain medical conditions have been associated with an increased risk of developing frozen shoulder. For example, individuals with diabetes are more prone to developing the condition. Other conditions such as thyroid disorders, cardiovascular disease, and Parkinson’s disease have also been linked to frozen shoulder.

Previous shoulder injury or surgery: People who have experienced shoulder injuries or undergone shoulder surgery may be more susceptible to developing frozen shoulder. Immobilization or prolonged periods of limited shoulder movement during the recovery process can contribute to the development of adhesions and stiffness in the joint.

While the exact causes of frozen shoulder are not fully understood, inflammation and thickening of the shoulder capsule, along with certain risk factors, are believed to play a significant role in its development.

Understanding these factors can help healthcare professionals and patients alike in managing and treating the condition effectively.

3. Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

Recognizing the symptoms of frozen shoulder is crucial for early intervention and treatment. The condition typically progresses in three stages: freezing, frozen, and thawing.

During the freezing stage, individuals may experience gradual onset shoulder pain that worsens with movement. This pain may be described as dull, aching, or constant. Range of motion in the shoulder joint becomes limited, making it challenging to raise or extend the arm or rotate the shoulder.

Sleeping on the affected side may also be uncomfortable, affecting quality of sleep.

4. Diagnosis of Frozen Shoulder

Diagnosing frozen shoulder involves a thorough examination and assessment by a healthcare professional. A physical examination will evaluate shoulder mobility and pain. Additionally, discussing your symptoms and medical history, including any underlying conditions, will help in the diagnostic process.

Imaging tests such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered to rule out other conditions and visualize the soft tissues of the shoulder.

It is crucial to differentiate frozen shoulder from other shoulder disorders, such as rotator cuff injuries or arthritis, to ensure appropriate treatment.

5. Frozen Shoulder Treatments and Exercises

At Get Back Physiotherapy Clinic, we offer a range of treatments for frozen shoulder, tailored to each individual’s needs. Our team includes skilled massage therapists in Etobicoke who specialize in musculoskeletal conditions and can provide targeted therapy.

Treatment options may include:

Physical therapy to improve shoulder mobility and strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint.

Manual therapy techniques, such as joint mobilizations and soft tissue mobilizations, to alleviate pain and restore range of motion.

Modalities like heat or cold therapy to reduce inflammation and manage pain.

In severe cases, corticosteroid injections or surgical intervention may be considered.

In addition to professional treatments, performing specific exercises at home can help alleviate symptoms and improve shoulder mobility. These exercises may include pendulum swings, wall crawls, and stretching exercises that target the shoulder joint.


If you are experiencing symptoms of frozen shoulder, don’t delay seeking professional help. Get Back Physiotherapy Clinic, including our Sports Injury Clinic in Etobicoke, is here to provide comprehensive care for frozen shoulder.

Our dedicated team, including experienced massage therapists, will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that focuses on your recovery and getting you back to enjoying an active and pain-free lifestyle.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

About Us

We offer physical therapy services with over 13 years of experience. We also offer a holistic approach to your treatment by providing other services like- Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Osteopathy and Chiropractor.

We have Pelvic Floor physiotherapists who can help you with Pelvic pain, Incontinence and Prolapse of Pelvic Organ. Our Therapists are also Trained in treating TMJ or Jaw joint.

We are available for service during weekends and early morning hours on weekdays to help you outside your busy work hours.

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