Frozen shoulder - Treatment 

Treating frozen shoulder 

Treatment for a frozen shoulder will vary, depending on the stage of the condition and the severity of your pain and stiffness.

A frozen shoulder may get better over time on its own without treatment, but recovery is often slow and can take at least 18 to 24 months. In some people, the condition may not improve for 5 years or more.

A number of different treatments can be used to treat frozen shoulder, although it is uncertain how effective they are and which is best.

The treatments described below can help reduce shoulder pain and keep the joint mobile while the shoulder heals.

Early stage treatments

The first stage of a frozen shoulder is the most painful. Therefore, treatment is mainly focused on relieving the pain.

During this stage, your GP may recommend avoiding movements that make the pain worse, such as stretching. However, you should not stop moving altogether.

Painkillers

If you are in pain, you may be prescribed painkillers, such as paracetamol, a combination of paracetamol and codeine or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Some painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, are also available from pharmacies without a prescription. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure you are taking the correct dose.

Taking painkillers, particularly NSAIDs, in the long term can increase your risk of side effects. See the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication for more information.

Read more about the side effects of NSAIDs.

Corticosteroid injections

If painkillers are not helping control the pain, it may be possible to have a corticosteroid injection in your shoulder joint.

Corticosteroids are medicines that help reduce pain and inflammation. They may also be given with a local anaesthetic.

These injections can help relieve pain and improve the movement in your shoulder. However, injections will not cure your condition and your symptoms may gradually return.

Corticosteroid injections will not be used after the pain has gone from your shoulder and only the stiffness remains.

Having too many corticosteroid injections may damage your shoulder, and the injections often become less effective over time, so your doctor may recommend having no more than three injections. You will need at least three to four weeks between these.

Read more about corticosteroids.

Later stage treatments

After the initial painful stage, stiffness is the main symptom of a frozen shoulder. Your GP may suggest stretching exercises, and you may also be referred to a physiotherapist.

Shoulder exercises

If you have a frozen shoulder, it's important to keep your shoulder joint mobile with regular, gentle stretching exercises. Not using your shoulder could make the stiffness worse, so you should continue to use it as normal.

However, if your shoulder is very stiff, exercise may be painful. Your GP or physiotherapist can give you some simple exercises to do every day at home that won't damage your shoulder any more.

Physiotherapy

A physiotherapist can use a number of techniques to keep the movement and flexibility in your shoulder. If you are referred to one, you may have treatments including:

  • stretching exercises that use specific techniques to move the joint in all directions
  • massage
  • thermotherapy, with warm or cold temperature packs

There is no clinical evidence to show that other treatments, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), Shiatsu massage or acupuncture are effective in treating frozen shoulder.

Read more about physiotherapy.

Surgery and procedures

It is uncommon to need surgery for a frozen shoulder, but it may be recommended if your symptoms are severe and other treatments have not worked after six months.

If this happens, you may be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon (a specialist in conditions that affect the bones and joints). Some of the procedures used to treat frozen shoulder are described below.

Manipulation under anaesthetic

If you are finding the pain and movement restriction difficult to cope with, you can have your shoulder manipulated (moved) while you are under general anaesthetic.

During this procedure, your shoulder will be moved, in a controlled way, to stretch the sleeve (shoulder capsule) surrounding the shoulder joint. You will usually have corticosteroid and local anaesthetic injected into your shoulder joint to help reduce any pain or swelling.

You can normally go home the same day. Physiotherapy is usually recommended afterwards to help maintain mobility in your shoulder.

Arthroscopic capsular release

Arthroscopic capsular release is an alternative procedure to manipulation. It is a type of minimally invasive or "keyhole" surgery, carried out under general anaesthetic, where two or three small incisions are made around your shoulder.

The surgeon will insert a thin tube containing a light and camera (arthroscope) into one of the incisions, so they can see inside your shoulder. A special probe that emits high-frequency radio waves is inserted through the other incisions, and this is used to divide or cut out the thickened parts of the shoulder capsule. Opening up the shoulder capsule in this way should greatly improve your range of movement.

As with manipulation, you can usually go home the same day you have this operation, and you will probably need physiotherapy afterwards to help you regain a full range of movement in your shoulder joint. Stretching exercises need to be continued for at least three months after surgery.

Shoulder stiffness  may return, despite manipulation or surgery, and further treatment may be necessary.

Arthrographic distension (hydrodilatation)

Although it is less commonly performed than the operations described above, a procedure called arthrographic distension or hydrodilatation may sometimes be recommended to treat your frozen shoulder.

This treatment is carried out under local anaesthetic, which means you will be awake while it is carried out, but your shoulder will be numbed.

A special fluid called contrast medium, which shows up clearly on X-rays, will be injected into your shoulder joint at the beginning of the procedure. Under continuous X-ray guidance, a mixture of saline, corticosteroid and local anaesthetic is then injected into the shoulder joint.

This procedure usually only takes about 15 minutes, and you can go home the same day. As with the other procedures described above, physiotherapy may be recommended afterwards to help you regain a good range of movement in your shoulder.

There is some evidence that hydrodilatation may result in less pain and greater movement, although the effects may be no better than a corticosteroid injection.

Page last reviewed: 17/03/2014

Next review due: 17/03/2016

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Comments

The 43 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Marciebea said on 25 February 2014

I had rotator cuff surgery for a full thickness tear with retraction on 9/4/13 which resulted from a backwards fall from a counter top onto a tile floor. The fall ripped my rotator cuff off the bone. The surgeon had to use 3 screws to anchor it back on. I have frozen severe shoulder and I've been going to PT to get my range of motion back. Just recently I was ordered a devise called a " Dyna Splint" to help with rotation. I used this devise and I now have a torn bicep too. Is anyone familiar with the Dyna Splint and if it can cause a torn bicep? I am so discouraged with this new injury and it feels like I'll never get my arm back!

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hhanya said on 30 December 2013

I had surgery for a frayed bicep tendon on 10/14/13 and my surgeon discovered I had a severely FS that couldn't be budged even under anesthetic. Surprise. Started PT the day after surgery for the shoulder while in a sling for 6 weeks to protect the bicep tendon which was repaired by removing the frayed portion and reattaching. It is now 12/29/13 and the frozen shoulder is still extremely painful although I've managed to get a bit more range of motion. Has anybody else had this bicep tendon/frozen shoulder combination? I now think I started the FS around 5 years ago but just didn't realize because the pain was intermittent. The PT doesn't do much and is very painful. Would the injections help at this point? I want my arm back!

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Andysbird said on 21 November 2013

Six years ago my right shoulder froze. I had an operation for impingement which made the situation worse. I was promised that I would be completely healed within three months. Three years later, following cortisone injections, Physio, acupuncture, osteopathy, Chinese medicine (none of which helped) I was pain fee enough to start sailing again. A year ago my left shoulder started up. This is even more painful than the right shoulder, with pain radiating down my arm. I am in so much pain. Even co-codamol tablets don't help. Putting on my bra is excruciating. Sleeping is nearly impossible. Surely someone has an answer?

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DMS395 said on 09 October 2013

Hi,
I feel your pain - literally!
I too have frozen shoulder and finally saw a Consultant yesterday and had an injection first to see if it helps, then physio and was told operation if not.
I have had no end of grief trying to get a referral from my GP who refused to admit I had frozen shoulder and kept telling me that 2 separate physiotherapists and another GP were wrong. My frozen shoulder has been brought on by my recent cervical fusion (6 months ago tomorrow) and the pain from this has and is horrendous. I have only limited movement and it is a struggle just to get washed and dressed. I am worried that this is going to worsen my cervical problems as I still need a foraminotomy done soon and another cervical fusion as they did the levels that had flattened my cord and was paralysing me. I feel that I have gone through enough and am so annoyed that I have had to go privately to get treated due to the arrogance of my GP that did not want to admit was wrong. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this injection gives me some relief at least

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Chil said on 08 October 2013

I am 74years old and been diagnosed with a R Frozen shoulder. Duration 10 months. During this period I have had 4 Steroid ( cortisone ) injections .. Acupuncture by a Chinese doctor. Aruvvedic injections ,tablets n Gel n treatment by a physiotherapist with TENS n stretching exercises ......no remarkable improvement. The next step is MUA by the orthopedic surgeon.
Before I undergo this treatment am contemplating to see a psychic surgeon/healer.
Has anyone been for this treatment n the outcome. Kindly give me your take

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karen61 said on 06 October 2013

Hi I'm due to have a mua in a couple of weeks. How long will it be before I can go back to work. Is a couple of days after being a bit optimistic? Does anyone know.

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Tsveta said on 20 August 2013

Hi ,I have frozen shoulder for 7 months now,and I have all this symptoms and pain,and tried everything!
The on thing working for me is Kinesio pre -cut,
I couldn't believed the first time I used it,no pain for 15 hours?so I tried again,and yes,the relive is huge,I strongly recommend it people.
I am sure other companies are doing it too,I just haven't found it yet.
I bough one in Italy by meter-5 metres >
Good luck everybody

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albert8 said on 11 August 2013

I had manipulation 1 week ago, amazed at the movement I already have gained! I was a bit confused as to whether to have it done but the date came thru for only 10 days after I first saw my orthopedic consultant so I decided to trust his judgement. I was nervous and it was very painful when I woke up, but after pain killers and rest was loads better. Started physio stretches the next day and yes a bit painful, but mainly from the muscles that haven't been used for months rather than the joint & nothing compared to the pain I had before. I fell while trekking in mid March altho it didn't initially hurt that much, just got worse over the next few weeks. I came home early from my trip & frustratingly took 10 weeks to get diagnosed on the NHS but my consultant got me treated as urgent. I had never heard of frozen shoulder and wish I had been diagnosed earlier, if nothing else it helps to know what you are fighting even if there is not a lot you can do to ease the pain. 1 week in I am so pleased I had manipulation, it may not be for everyone but I've not been able to work and all my plans are on hold, at least now I can start to think ahead and even start working in a couple of weeks. Happy me at last :)

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argill said on 31 July 2013

I am now 2 weeks post op. First few days were painful but not too bad. Now pain is always there but Nurofen helps. It's getting better every day and I have to keep reminding myself its only 2 weeks. However movement is a huge difference. I can lift above my head nearly as much as good arm. Sideways I can also lift vertical. It is painful to do but it'll get better. Still restricted putting arm behind back but working on it. So far so good. Even travelled 11 hours to California after 12 days so can't be too bad.

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JackiG said on 30 July 2013

Finding this very informative, and my sympathies to everyone. I started with the left shoulder October 12 and it has gradually gotten worse (as it does) and am now experiencing similar pain in my right shoulder as well. One you can try to manage but two.......

Having tried, at my own expense, chiropractic ( didn't help) and acupuncture ( some relief for 24-48 hours) I started doing some googling and came up with a Mail article which is about 5 years old, but talks about something called "hydrodilation".

Basically a risk free 10 minute treatment (so the article said) which puts a very low solution of salty warer directly into the shoulder which "releases" the adhesions. Apparently this has been around for years and is widely used in Australia.

Went to the doctor this morning and am to have an X- Ray on the right shoulder to confirm (?) same thing, but also a request has gone in for this procedure. If I haven't heard anything within 2 weeks I will chase it up. Will also let you know how I get on


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argill said on 18 July 2013

Surgery yesterday at Nuffield Plymouth. In and out in a few hours. Wore sling but removed today. Sore but expected. Starting exercises today and feels like more range but painful. Physio starts tomorrow. Determined to make this work. Keep you posted on post op results each week.

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deepgreen said on 17 July 2013

Dear Clare G2, Chinese Acupuncture will help you with the pain for 1-2 days only, it will not cure you FS. I had 6 sessions of this and also took their ginseng tablets and it only helped me temporarily with the pain but it did not cure my FS. All the best....

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argill said on 14 July 2013

Had this for 9 months. Tried cortisone not great. Luckily have BUPA so going I for surgery next week. Not sure if its the right decision but keep you posted on recovery and if it works.

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Clare G2 said on 01 July 2013

I'm 14 weeks pregnant with my second child and I have just been diagnosed with frozen shoulder. From reading all of the above it sounds like a long road to recovery, but one that I'm not alone on. My pain relief options are pretty limited and while they said I should be fine to have one steroid injection during my stage of pregnancy it has done very little to relieve the pain. Like all of you, daily tasks are painful and I have no idea how I can continue to work with this pain. I'd swop labour for this any day of the week....but then I guess I'll get to experience both at the same time in six months! As a Brit living in Singapore, I'm going to give acupuncture (if i can bear the pain) and whatever Chinese medicine is considered safe for my condition a whirl. Physio was excruciating and pain killers aren't an option for me. For those who had acupuncture, can I ask if you had it while in the frozen, acutely painful stage or would it be more suitable to what I've come to learn is called the thawing stage?

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ksp189 said on 28 June 2013

I had a 2 yr history of R shoulder pain. I had injections (7 in total) that offered some relied initially but each time came back worse. Also had Physio. Ultrasound & MRI. Finally in desperation paid to see a private Orthopaedic Consultant who diagnosed frozen shoulder with impingement. He was great, transferred back to NHS for manipulation within 2 weeks. By this time the left shoulder was displaying same symptoms. The MUA has worked great good range, still quite sore & very wasted but much better. I now have to wait for the Left shoulder to get to the seized up stage before I can have that one done. Very frustrating. I'm a right handed self employed web designer so it has been a nightmare trying to work. I also have Cystic Fibrosis so feeling pretty fed up with it all.
What amazes me having done research is that it is relatively common, totally debilitating & results in so much time off work; why isn't more known & understood about it?

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Buba1954 said on 27 June 2013

Feeling devastated, had my first hydrotherapy session on Tuesday. Shoulder has lost movement and I am in pain. Got appointment for my hydrodilation injection not looking forward to it part of me is thinking I would rather have another operation.

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Disneypie said on 27 May 2013

I had a FS 3years ago following treatment for a fractured elbow. I cannot express how severe the pain was. I could not sleep , shower, drive , work,dress. Thank god I had private health cover, and got treated by manipulation. My consulant at the time, told me that i was the worst example of FS he had seen in his 30year career. However, the first time I had the treatment, it was in the early stages, and froze up again almost immediately . I have never known pain like it. Truly , the worst. I have e ver experienced.
Now ,I recently felt a similar type of pain in my right shoulder. I rushed to see a doctor, who referred me to a consultant, who says to go home as its in the early stages, and wait for it to worsen.! .He. Gave me a stroid injection (painful) to help with the pain. This has now worn off lasted approx 4 weeks. No one, unless they have experienced this condition, can understand the pain . I cannot plan my life, am almost at the point where I cannot drive, am petrified someone will bump into me and I will be on my knees in pain. Sometimes I feel I can almost pass out with the pain.
I don't think I can bear to wait for the next few months where it will get worse. Am due to go to hospital on Wednesday for a follow up. Will post the consultants recommendations once I have been.

All of you out there suffering, please be assured, that all of us in this situation understand your pain.

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tenniscoach said on 21 May 2013

just wanted to tell deborasalty that I feel your pain. My dr. said different people have different levels of pain tolerance (which I took to mean he thought I had low tolerance) and has no idea what this is like. I have FS in left shoulder for 4 months and starting to get it in right shoulder. I used the fact that I have given birth 4 times as an example for him that I know what pain is like and this is just as excruciating at times. This is why I appreciated your post. My son unintentionally bumped into my left shoulder yesterday and I was curled up in pain for a couple of minutes and reminded me of being in labor. Hope you feel better soon. I am debating about going ahead with surgery as this is going to be miserable to deal with for two years as seems to be the norm. I feel like why put yourself through this when surgery can speed up the process. Also, thought maybe I would try accupuncture first.

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deborasalty said on 20 May 2013

I'm now suffering the second frozen shoulder in the last 5 years. nobody who hasn't been through this can understand how extremely painful and debilitating this is..3 childbirths don't even come close. And how long this takes to cure.....which doesn't actually happen in the end it cures itself...I'm so much hoping somebody will find a real cure as my second one has just started, is extremely painful. The cortisone injections didn't do anything the first time, neither did the heavy painful physiotherapist exercises, I'm trying now the more quite physical exercises that avoid over-stretching but the pain is everyday worse.....

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Teresa Drew said on 28 April 2013

I am having physiotherapy after suffering a fracture and dislocation of my right arm. I am 8 weeks down the line and if anything in more pain now than I was after my accident. My physio has said to me he thinks I may be suffering from frozen shoulder but I have just been told to get on with the pendulum exercises etc. this is nearly impossible as even taking codeine, ibrofen and paracetamol I am in agony. I can raise my actual arm, not counting elbow movement about 2 inches . At my last appointment at the fracture clinic I was told the bone is knitting and to make an appointment for six weeks. Due to the fact I can not elevate my arm my wrist and hand is also affected by the swelling making both painful and practically useless. I really don't know where to turn ! Cooking and showering properly are a no go, I am getting so desperate to be able to actually wash and dress myself ! Any advice on where I should turn ? I just feel like I am being told to man up, get used to the pain and get on with it :(

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titretoff said on 02 March 2013

I had all the above symptoms, but because work hours were so restrictive, I ended up getting a private MRI scan done while I was on holiday (8 hours notice). I know it's a lot of money, and I had paid 24 years NI, but I couldn't work/live the way I was. I was diagnosed with a frozen shoulder and supraspinatus muscle tear.

Came back home, saw a private consultant the same evening I saw the GP. Gave me a date for surgery 2 days later. Booked in to see the same consultant as an NHS patient just to check waiting times, it was 6 weeks to see the consultant, then another 18+ weeks for surgery. Cannot jump the consultant queue even though I'd seen the same consultant private a few weeks ago.

Well, now I'm 48 hrs post (private) surgery - booked in with 4 days' notice- and although still in pain, it's well controlled with the same painkillers I had pre op (Diclofen, Tramadol). But I can move my shoulder 80-90% normal, and the pain only comes when I'm doing my stretching exercises and not anywhere as horrendous as when I was knocked before the op. I can brush my hair, tie my pony tail, go to the toilet and clean myself and shower normally!! Wow!

I wish I had chosen to go for surgery months ago, instead of going through months of physio/osteopathic treatment (helped but only temporarily each time) and waiting so long for a possible NHS appointment. Feel completely let down by the NHS, but what is price of pain relief after 9 months of agony?!! Can feel twinges in the other shoulder starting, so hopefully this side is going to heal quickly before I need the other side doing. And this time, the other side will be done as soon as physio/osteopathic treatment stops working.....

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AuntyN said on 18 February 2013

I have all the symptoms everyone else has described, the agony if my arm is knocked, unable to do many tasks like drying hair etc.. cannot raise my arm much past my waist. Been to GP 3 times, paid a private Osteopath for 6 weeks now, and had a visit to an NHS assessment centre late last week. Still no diagnosis, just been advised by the assessment centre that they will be recommending Physiotherapy. I think I need an MRI to try and see what is going on in there but no one seems to think that the fact that I am virtually disabled in one arm is important enough to merit spending the money on this test.

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AuntyN said on 18 February 2013

At last! a group of people who understand my pain, literally. I look completely normal so I am not sure people believe me when I say I have a problem with my arm - although the messy hair, obvious lack of sleep & the 10 minutes to go to the loo as it takes that long to get the underwear back up and the skirt back down fully with one arm, and forget about clothing with a tie waist or wrap around belt, you have no chance. I have not yet been officially diagnosed with a Frozen Shoulder despite seeing my GP 3 times plus a private Osteopath for about 6 weeks (I paid) and I have finally 2 days ago got to the point of an NHS assessment clinic (which they advised me I had been cancelled off without notification or reason when I arrived for my appointment - but that's another story). Anyway, I got the assessment, a physiotherapist looked me over for a short while, made me try to move my arm - which I can't do much with and haven't been able to for 4 months now. No diagnosis at the end just told me I would be referred for Physiotherapy and perhaps Hydrotherapy. I have the pain that doubles you up when you catch your arm or are knocked into, I can't sleep in a bed anymore, I have to have the support of the back of the sofa keeping my arm level all night, I sleep almost fully upright which is not at all restful, I have had to hire an administrator at my own cost to help me with tasks in work so I can keep up with my workload, I can't dry my hair, drive the car, clean the house. It's a good thing I don't have kids to care for and that my husband is a sweetheart and does things for me that I can't do. Cost of a private MRI is over £400 for one area over £600 if they need to do neck and shoulder (I am so desperate I am considering this option but I am fuming that I should have to) 42 years old, healthy, working since 16, contributed constantly to the system with tax and N.I for 26 years and can't get a test that may actually show someone what is wrong with me!

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Peter Still said on 12 February 2013

As an osteopath I treat many people with frozen shoulder (I have seen three today!) Unfortunately the line taken by doctors seems to be based on the opinions of long retired consultants that didn't understand the condition and had no effective treatment for it.
First, it is important to get the correct diagnosis. Unless your GP is also an orthopaedic / musculoskeletal specialist, they will probably not know how to assess it. Xrays won't show it and you will have to wait months for an expensive MRI to tell you what a physical therapist (osteopath, chiropractor or physio) can tell you in a few seconds. Make sure you speak to the therapist directly before you make an appointment though - many have little experience with this problem. Ask how often they treat it and their success rate.
The treatment will be painful for a few seconds and you will need to do home exercises several times a day to benefit from the treatment.
You will need two or three treatments a week at first, tapering off to once a week then every 2 to 4 weeks until you get full pain free movements.
I work on the basis that however long you have had it, it will probably take that long to fix it.
The sooner you start treating it, the faster it will get better! Early treatment is painful but the benefits outweigh a few seconds of pain.
If the treatment or exercises cause pain that lasts more than a few minutes, either it has been done wrong or the diagnosis is wrong - hence the importance of seeing someone with experience.
Your doctor may not know what an osteopath does and may try to frighten you not to go - our insurances are about the same it costs a 50 year old to insure a small car, a good indicator of our safety record.
As shown by another entry below, manipulation under anaesthetic can cause a lot of damage - again, if you chose this route speak to the surgeon first and assure yourself of their experience / success rate.
If you are diabetic it is more likely and harder to treat.

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Cathray321 said on 29 January 2013

Last year, May 2012 , I had a discomfort in my arm like I had slept wrong on it I ignored it until the end of August when it was so painful I couldn't sleep on it nor on the other side as the bad arm couldn't rest comfortably. A sudden pull of the arm on holiday had me on my knees in tears! Finally Diagnosed with frozen shoulder and in November had an injection. All of the symptoms noted above applied. To date I have had 2 cortisone injections - had another in December - and the pain is still with me. My doctor referred me to physio but she did one session and couldn't continue. I went out into my car and cried like a baby it was so painful. She did carry out acupuncture for several sessions but NHS would not allow that to continue so discharged. At the start, I was so stiff, my neck, shoulder, chest area even. Nightmare. Never experienced anything like it. Went to a consultant, privately, 5 mins for £190 -glad it was paid for by a work health plan. He said its definitely a frozen shoulder - that was also in November - feel my doctor should refer me for a scan but its just a simple comment from her, " this could last years"! Well I could not stick this. Due back with her in Feb. To date, Arm has little movement, driving hurts, sleeping hurts, on constant tabs, cant support my own weight e.g. getting out of bed or similar, had to get work to buy me accessories for computer which has helped - if you use one all day, ensure its not a laptop as you shouldn't be looking down but at eye level -helped me anyway. Taught myself to use wireless mouse i left hand so I can rest the right one. . Theres lots more to say but little room. Oh, physio has referred me to orthopaedics so hopefully........long road head yet I fear. Other shoulder under pressure now, hope its not going the same way.

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Heavensent said on 19 January 2013

I first went to the GP with chronic pain in my shoulder and right arm. I had very little movement in the shoulder affected and bolts of pain would shoot up my arm if I strained it. The doctor gave me some painkillers and told me to come back in two weeks. Within two days I was back and asked to be referred to a physio. She booked an X-Ray and I went to the hospital two weeks later, having to wait for an appointment whilst in agony. Once at the hospital having the X-Ray, they told me I had to wait at least another 10 days for the results to be sent to the Doctor. I just broke down in tears. The nurse, seeing my distress told me about the A & E fast-track service, where I could be seen by a doctor in the hospital and he could access the X-Ray straight away on the computer system. He immediately recognized a frozen shoulder and wrote a letter to my GP with his diagnosis. When I gave the letter to my GP, she complained about me wasting her budget as she would get an invoice from the hospital. I was appalled by this and told her that my pain was unbearable, I was suffering from lack of sleep as I could not get comfortable. The doctor in the hospital had suggested a cortisone injection so I was keen to get this. I then got a letter from the clinic saying I had to wait a month. By this point I was desperate for pain relief. I went to a private physio who wanted to help but needed my Doctor to prescribe the drugs. She would not; so I went about ringing the clinic every day to see if there was a cancellation. Eventually, an earlier appointment arrived and I was seen by the professionals I needed. An assessment was made , then the next day I went to see the Physiotherapy team at City Hospital, Birmingham. Eureka! They took my case on so I did not have to go back to my Doctor again and guess what, within two months, I have greater mobility and the pain is not so intense.

The moral is, don't give up and find the real professionals in the NHS. They do exist!

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Heavensent said on 19 January 2013

I first went to the GP with chronic pain in my shoulder and right arm. I had very little movement in the shoulder affected and bolts of pain would shoot up my arm if I strained it. The doctor gave me some painkillers and told me to come back in two weeks. Within two days I was back and asked to be referred to a physio. She booked an X-Ray and I went to the hospital two weeks later, having to wait for an appointment whilst in agony. Once at the hospital having the X-Ray, they told me I had to wait at least another 10 days for the results to be sent to the Doctor. I just broke down in tears. The nurse, seeing my distress told me about the A & E fast-track service, where I could be seen by a doctor in the hospital and he could access the X-Ray straight away on the computer system. He immediately recognized a frozen shoulder and wrote a letter to my GP with his diagnosis. When I gave the letter to my GP, she complained about me wasting her budget as she would get an invoice from the hospital. I was appalled by this and told her that my pain was unbearable, I was suffering from lack of sleep as I could not get comfortable. The doctor in the hospital had suggested a cortisone injection so I was keen to get this. I then got a letter from the clinic saying I had to wait a month. By this point I was desperate for pain relief. I went to a private physio who wanted to help but needed my Doctor to prescribe the drugs. She would not; so I went about ringing the clinic every day to see if there was a cancellation. Eventually, an earlier appointment arrived and I was seen by the professionals I needed. An assessment was made , then the next day I went to see the Physiotherapy team at City Hospital, Birmingham. Eureka! They took my case on so I did not have to go back to my Doctor again and guess what, within two months, I have greater mobility and the pain is not so intense.

The moral is, don't give up and find the real professionals in the NHS. They do exist!

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hilaryp2 said on 03 January 2013

I have also had frozen shoulders - both of them though not at the same time fortunately. The pain when jarring or knocking my arm was incalculable - I cannot explain how much or how deep the pain went. Suffice to say that from what I have read on hear, most people have experienced the same thing. I had physio on my last fs and it did ease it but I had the physio quite worried when I burst into tears more than once when he was trying to 'do it good' - still, it did eventually get better. Just a question though - I now have pain again in my left shoulder which was the first fs I had back at the end of 2004 (took a good 18mths for it to go) and some restricted movement on reaching etc. DOes anyone know if you can get fs twice in a shoulder??

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thehobbitt said on 25 December 2012

my husband has a frozen shoulder and been given painkillers which do not work and been to see the physio
for an assessment yet he has been told there is a 25 week waiting list which is shocking he is in agony

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purplerainbow said on 21 December 2012

I have had a frozen shoulder since Janary 2012 and had 3 cortisone injections which didn't work. In August I had manipulation under general anaesthetic when my shoulder was fractured and this wasn't discovered for 5 weeks as my surgeon went off on holiday immediately after the surgery and the nursing staff would not believe me when I said I was in agony. When my surgeon came back from holiday almost 5 weeks later he realised there was a terrible problem and I had an MRI scan. Steps were taken and I ended up in hospital again and had surgery to have my shoulder rebroken and I now have 3 metal plates in there. I am now having intensive painful physio and my shoulder is still very frozen.

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Loopy25 said on 11 December 2012

Thank you to everyone who has posted on this I was beginning to think I was going mad! I have just been diagnosed with FS but couldnt believe the pain I was experiencing was coming from my shoulder. I mean it is so intense, if I try to pull a door, open a drawer insignificant things could cause such pain in my arm throbbing in my chest and neck just unbelievable. So although I can sympathise with your pain I now feel that at least I know that this pain is normal so to speak! I have had 2 cortisone injections on the top of the arm and then another different one in the back none of which have relieved any of the symptoms. I cry in pain at night because even the slightest movement will set the pain off. I am so tired due to this and reading the symptoms and treatments is grim reading.
I have seen a physio privately and although she managed to release my neck a bit as I have also been having the worse migraines ever due to FS she did say that there really isnt anything she can do further until I am in the thaw part. It seems never ending.

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DizzG said on 09 December 2012

1. Very surprised to hear that Mrs Wibbley refers to 4 months. Most sources are far less optimistic

2. I have been provisionally diagnosed with FS. Pain on almost all movements. First cortisone didnt work - suggested that it went into the muscle rather than the bone. Major pain centre halfway between shoulder and elbow!
Cant take NSAID. Tramadol/Paracetemol give some relief.
Hoping that it is a cuff tear rather than FS.
Wish me luck

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IgglyBiggly said on 26 November 2012

I developed sharp pains in the right arm whilst playing sport in the summer. After 6 weeks the pain was worse so I went to see my GP who referred me to a hospital consultant. After a wait of another painful 4 weeks I saw the consultant who told me it was a frozen shoulder and that there were three choices.

1. Wait a couple of years for it to heal itsel
2. Injections - maximum 3
3. Surgery

I immediately opted for the surgery since reading on the net that injections don't always seem to cure the condition. I figure that if I am going to be injected, it may as well be once for the surgery! This of course meant a 12-14 week wait and at the time I wasn't sure I could stand the pain for that long. Sitting and sleeping are the worst for pain and every night I have been woken 3 or 4 times by the pain. I have lived on Ibuprofin. Standing up the pain tends to ease, but if you catch your arm on a door or a sudden involuntary pulling movement then it is the worst pain I have ever experienced. And that happens nearly every day.

My surgery is now 10 days away and I can't wait. I might update this a few weeks after the surgery to advise how it went, but there doesn't seem to be any reason why surgery shouldn't be offered at the consultant stage. The pain is so intense and movement so restricted, I don't see how some people can work through it.

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IgglyBiggly said on 26 November 2012

I developed sharp pains in the right arm whilst playing sport in the summer. After 6 weeks the pain was worse so I went to see my GP who referred me to a hospital consultant. After a wait of another painful 4 weeks I saw the consultant who told me it was a frozen shoulder and that there were three choices.

1. Wait a couple of years for it to heal itself
2. Injections - maximum 3
3. Surgery

I immediately opted for the surgery since reading on the net that injections don't always seem to cure the condition. I figure that if I am going to be injected, it may as well be once for the surgery! This of course meant a 12-14 week wait and at the time I wasn't sure I could stand the pain for that long. Sitting and sleeping are the worst for pain and every night I have been woken 3 or 4 times by the pain. I have lived on Ibuprofin. Standing up the pain tends to ease, but if you catch your arm on a door or a sudden involuntary pulling movement then it is the worst pain I have ever experienced. And that happens nearly every day.

My surgery is now 10 days away and I can't wait. I might update this a few weeks after the surgery to advise how it went, but there doesn't seem to be any reason why surgery shouldn't be offered at the consultant stage. The pain is so intense and movement so restricted, I don't see how some people can work through it.

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jyuihopl said on 08 November 2012

Acupuncture worked for me (about 30 visits). Insurance covered it. I would suggest an MRI first to make sure there is not a rotator cuff tear. Bring a copy of the MRI report to the acupuncturist.

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nikki61 said on 01 October 2012

The pain with frozen is immense, or at least it has been for me. I've just been diagnosed with a second frozen shoulder. The only treatment that has worked in the past for me was hydrodilitation. It's not available everywhere but is definitely worth looking for. I got it on the NHS in Kingston, Surrey. The doctor was amazing, I could have cried after talking to him - finally someone understood the problem. I've been referred straight to him again.

With my first frozen shoulder I spent over £400 on acupuncture just so I could sleep for the half hour I was there - cant do that again now!

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Juliacornwall said on 28 September 2012

I was particularly interested in what Dametwiddy said, I, too, am now finding showering and dressing very difficult and doing my hair is virtually a no no. However, for all you people who think that when you finally get to see a consultant things will improve - don't hold your breath! I saw one this morning; he gave me a third steroid injection in 5 months - which isn't going to work any better than the last two did - and cheerfully told me that ... well ... in a year or two it wouldn't hurt so much anymore, I'd probably be in the stiffness stage by then.
Probably because I sobbed in the consulting room I have been given another appointment for next January, but I am now well aware that I'm not going to be offered anymore than tea and sympathy.
Frankly, my life is falling apart, my house is filthy and I'm scared to death to go anywhere with crowds of people in case someone bumps into me.
But thanks, anyway, to you all who've left comments here. It's nice, at least, to know that there are other people out there suffering the same sort of pain as I am. I mean at least if it was swollen or something it would look the part, but I'm well aware that there are people who think I'm just attention seeking, I've seen it in their eyes.

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Anony2 said on 16 September 2012

I have had both left and right frozen shoulders in close succession. I tried paid-for deep tissue therapy (by a skilled sports therapists) but the relief was temporary and it was expensive. The lack of sleep, disabling affect and high pain levels meant that I had to have injections into both shoulder joints and manipulation of the left shoulder under anaesthetic. These were the only treatments that worked long term, supported by physiotherapy. If you’re suffering from pain and lack of movement don’t hesitate – see your GP, get referred to a specialist and get treatment. The injection provides instant pain relief and enables you to do things like gentle swimming (slightly modified breaststroke) which restores flexibility quite quickly. There is no need to continue suffering, the conventional NHS treatments are good.

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dametwiddy said on 12 May 2012

A couple of months ago, I caught my arm in my coat, a really silly thing, just jarring it in a sleeve and although my arm ached for a while, I did not think too much about it. Then I noticed it started to get very painful and I started loosing movement. I can't take NSAIDS and so my Doc gave me a cortisone jab, well, that lasted about 3 days and the pain returned, with it being excruciating if I made any sudden movements, like trying to pull the car door shut!. I was referred for physio and after only 2 sessions the physiotherapist has referred me back to the Doc because the shoulder is still in the freezing process and because I have lost so much movement already (right dominant arm) he said that the Doc might do a scan or refer me for some sort of surgical process or do nothing at all!. The worst part of all this is the loss of movement, not being able to reach or lift or even clean the house without a lot of severe pain involved. I had just got a job after 5 months of applications and had to give it up straight away because I cannot do the lifting and shelf stacking involved. I have been told that given time (anything up to 3 years) the condition should resolve itself. However, being at the beginning of the process, I cannot face looking at another year or three of this and have no idea what type of work I can apply for where I don't have to use my right arm??!! I have asked for acupuncture, but have been told that won't work (so basically cant get it via the NHS) and I cannot afford private treatments. I am doing all the exercises I can find, but apart from causing more pain, I wake up every day (when I can get any sleep that is) and I find I have more stiffness and less movement. I am now even finding that showering and dressing are becoming extremely difficult. Is this such a severe problem with everybody who has this condition? How does everybody else cope within a living and working environment? What sort of work can I do with one properly working arm?

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flo65 said on 18 April 2012

Anyone has more infos about 'hydrotherapy' treatment in frozen shoulder ? what movement to do in a pool etc.

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samoa58 said on 26 March 2012

Last July I replaced my front door and changed the hinge opening. I attached a large door knocker and ran into it 4 times when leaving my house and banged my upper left shoulder.

For some months my biceps and triceps started to ache (not the shoulder joint) and I took physiotherapy' Later intense massage. I thought that the problem was something broken.

By November I could not move my arm or put on my jacket. The pain in my shoulder was the worst I have ever experienced. I did not know what the problem was but I assumed that something was broken.

I had an MRI scan in December. And consulted a senior orthopaedic surgeon to get his opinion. He said that I had a 'frozen shoulder' - and I read this up on the NHS website and also looked on the internet for more information. The best piece I found was:

"© 2005, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
Shoulder pain: diagnosis and management in primary care
Caroline Mitchell, senior clinical lecturer,1 Ade Adebajo, honorary senior lecturer,2 Elaine Hay, professor of community rheumatology,3 and Andrew Carr, Nuffield professor of orthopaedic surgery4"Institute of General Practice and Primary Care, School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield S5 7AU.

For me reading this was a huge relief...no clear understanding what it is, but it will get better. So I saw that all the doctors in the world can't do much.

Now I am starting easy physio on my own account.

So anyone else in my situation...keep calm and carry on...it will get better, slowly!



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Innominata said on 26 January 2012

Nice to see Shiatsu mentioned on this site, even though it is accompanied by the comment that "there is no clinical evidence to prove its effectiveness".
May I aks if there is such proof for any of the other therapies mentioned? I don't think so, so why single out Shiatsu for a precautionary remark?

Frozen shoulder is a very complex condition and difficult to "cure".
see for example: www.thephysiotherapysite.co.uk/physiotherapy/shoulders/treatment-of-frozen-shoulder
"Many treatments have been tried and continue to be offered, with the likely outcome that frozen shoulder goes through its natural history on its own, with treatments having little effect."

But as your site proves, there is hope and there have been people who had good results with a variety of treatments, and I would add: including Shiatsu, which is a treatment that is holistic and thus addresses many aspects of a condition, not just what the skeletal-muscular system presents. Thanks for giving the space to comment in this way.
Innominata

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MrsWibbly said on 28 June 2009

I have been unlucky enough in the last few years to have had both a frozen left and right shoulder (with a less than a year gap in between).

With my left shoulder in 2006 I found while most painkillers barely took the edge off and my shoulder got worse rapidly on an almost daily basis that my doctor was very supportive and referred me for Physiotherapy and Acupuncture. (The physio was trained in acupuncture).

The acupuncture was a great source of pain relief with the effects being both instant and lasting for several days. I also found that by significantly reducing the pain I gained a significant amount of movement with each treatment. After only 10-12 treatments I had regained full movement and there was no pain at all.

In 2007 when my right shoulder started to get painful I immediately knew what it was. The doctor again referred me for Physiotherapy and Acupuncture and again this helped greatly. I also had the added benefit of access to Hydrotherapy which helped improve the movement in my shoulder over an even shorter period.

I personally would never chose to have a steroid injection until I was sure that the physio and other treatments were not helping as I have not met a single person yet who has not found the steroid injection both painful and of limited effect. It offers only some short term pain relief and will not resolve the cause of the pain.

The exercises I was given to do by the physio were simple and can be found on the web in several places. Depending on your limits on movement some exercises will be easy and some impossible to begin with. I tried many and found a few helped a lot and some helped very little.

Personally I would recommend that if you doctor does not offer you physio or acupuncture as an option that you request these as in both my left and right shoulders, from start of treatment to end with the physio it was less than 4 months to regain full and pain free use of my shoulder.

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Easy exercises

Improve your fitness without harming your joints with some easy exercises, including yoga, pilates and swimming