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  • Writer's pictureLorenzo Basso

How To Tell If You Have Frozen Shoulder

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Frozen shoulder is one of those terms that get thrown around when dealing with shoulder pain. Quite often, people refer to their painful shoulder as frozen because they have limited range of motion. However, there are a number of conditions that can cause reduced mobility in the shoulder joint. In this blog, we will explain what frozen shoulder is and how you can identify if you have one.

Shoulder assessment

What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is an inflammatory condition that affects the shoulder joint. It might be secondary to trauma, but it can also arise without known reasons. Symptoms are a gradual onset of pain and stiffness around the shoulder joint. In some cases, the pain can spread to the lower arm. It is more common in people between 40 and 60 year old, and women and people with diabetes have higher chances of developing frozen shoulder. Although it can be a very painful and lengthy condition, the prognosis is usually favorable. Most people with frozen shoulder recover completely within 18 months.

How to tell if it is frozen shoulder?

People with frozen shoulder usually complain of insidious, gradual onset of shoulder pain and inability to lift their arm. On examination, shoulder lateral rotation and abduction are usually the two most restricted movements, both actively and passively. When asked to lift their arm, shrugging can often be observed as a compensation for the lack of shoulder mobility.

Other conditions that can cause shoulder stiffness are: rotator cuff tendinopathy, labrum tear and AC joint injury. However, these conditions present different history and examination findings.

How physiotherapy can help frozen shoulder

The initial painful phase can last anywhere between 6 to 12 months. During this time, physiotherapy treatment focuses on modalities to reduce the pain, such as heat therapy, massage and gentle stretching. Once your pain starts to subside, a physiotherapist can apply mobilization techniques and more aggressive stretching to regain full range of motion. He will also prescribe you some resistance exercises to regain your strength.


Frozen shoulder is a painful shoulder condition that requires a long period of time for full recovery. A physiotherapist can help you to diagnose your condition, manage your expectations and guide you through the recovery process. If you are not sure what is causing your shoulder pain, consult a doctor or physiotherapist for an accurate diagnosis.

Lorenzo Basso physiotherapist

Stride Fitness & Clinic

Telephone/WhatsApp +65 8882 4325

Address: 3 Shenton Way, #12-08 Shenton House, Singapore 068805

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