Your shoulder joint consists of a ball (humeral head) and socket (humerus). A layer of tissue (cartilage) covers the surfaces of these bones ensuring smooth movement as the joints rub together. The joint is surrounded by flexible tissue called a capsule.

When the capsule becomes inflamed or thickens the range of motion in your shoulder becomes restricted and painful. This is called frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis.

What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder?

Two symptoms of a frozen shoulder include pain and persistent stiffness. Mild symptoms have been described as a shoulder ache causing pain when reaching for something. Severe symptoms might be where movement of the shoulder is significantly limited.

Treatment for frozen shoulder

If you think you have frozen shoulder see your GP. They will perform an examination to determine your range of motion and look for any swelling, bruising or weakness in your muscles.

You may be referred for further tests including blood tests, x-rays, or an MRI scan.

Sometimes frozen shoulder gets better without treatment. Your GP may recommend taking pain killers such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatories to reduce any swelling in the joint.

Steroid injections can also relieve painful symptoms. These can be given with a local anaesthetic.
It is important to keep your shoulder moving. A physiotherapist can teach you regular, gentle exercises to help you increase and then maintain range of motion.

If your shoulder does not respond to conservative treatment you may be referred to a shoulder specialist. Our experienced consultants can diagnose and treat frozen shoulder in a hospital near you.