teenage boy getting his arm examined by female physical therapist

Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)

Adhesive capsulitis, commonly known as frozen shoulder, leads to pain, stiffness, limited mobility, and gradual loss of overall motion.

Physical therapy for frozen shoulder

When the joint capsule and soft tissues surrounding the shoulder become inflamed, swollen, and contracted, bands of scar tissue form and restrict mobility. Daily or recreational activities become difficult because of the pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

Physical therapy for frozen shoulder can increase mobility and prevent loss of function for the entire upper extremity–which sometimes happens when a frozen shoulder goes untreated.

Causes of frozen shoulder

Although a definitive cause has not been identified, there are several risk factors that make you more likely to develop adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder. These factors include shoulder trauma, surgery, diabetes, inflammatory conditions (such as rotator cuff tear, bursitis, or tendinitis), and inactivity of the shoulder. In addition, autoimmune disease and some thyroid conditions also appear to be linked to adhesive capsulitis.

two physical therapists working with their patients at the clinic

How we treat frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder is treated in a range of ways, including:

  • Stretching and manual therapy techniques, including joint mobilization
  • Range of motion exercises
  • Patient education for posture and arm positioning
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Ultrasound therapy, cold compression, heat therapy, and other modalities for pain, as well as to improve tissue flexibility
  • Activities to regain functional use of the shoulder
female raising one arm during a physical therapy consultation

What to expect

Your first physical therapy appointment is about creating a personalized treatment plan based on your health history, diagnosis, and goals. Here’s what you can expect at your first physical therapy appointment:

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Your first appointment will last about an hour. Please arrive 15 minutes early.

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If applicable, bring your physician referral or prescription, insurance card, paperwork, ID, and co-payment.

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At your appointment, we’ll do an initial evaluation and discuss your care plan.

*Services are not available at every location. Visit our Locations page for more details.