What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder (Adhesive capsulitis) is a condition causing fibrosis of the shoulder joint capsule. The tissue in your shoulder joint becomes thicker and tighter, then limits the shoulder movements and causing swelling and pain.

People suffer from Frozen shoulder frequently have difficulty with grooming, performing overhead activities, dressing, and particularly hands behind the back movements. Pain during the night disrupts sleep.

The recovery time and process for someone suffering with frozen shoulder can differ from 6 months to 2 years. This post will outline the recovery phases and time frames.

Why does it happen?

Currently the complete cause of this condition is still unknown.

However, people who’ve had prolonged immobility or reduced mobility of the shoulder are at higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. Immobility may be the result of many factors, including:

  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Broken arm
  • Stroke
  • Recovery from surgery


Physiotherapy treatment for frozen shoulder is encouraged at early and middle stages to reduce pain and increase shoulder range of movement, as well as strengthening the rotator cuff muscles.

What does recovery look like?

The literature reports that Frozen shoulder progresses through three overlapping clinical phases.

Freezing phase: 6 to 9 months.

  • You develop a pain in your shoulder any time you move it.
  • It slowly gets worse over time and may hurt more at night.
  • You’re limited in how far you can move your shoulder.

Frozen phase: 4-12 months.

  • Your pain might get better but your stiffness gets worse.
  • Moving your shoulder becomes more difficult and it becomes harder to get through daily activities.

Thawing phase: 6 months to 2 years

  • Your range of motion starts to go back to normal.



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