Diagnosing frozen shoulder 

See your GP if you think you have a frozen shoulder, or if you have persistent shoulder pain that limits your range of movement.

Early diagnosis and treatment may help prevent long-term stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint.

Your GP will examine your shoulder and ask about your symptoms. They may ask:

  • when your symptoms started  particularly if it was after an incident, such as a fall
  • how severe the pain is
  • if you have any other symptoms, such as neck pain
  • how your symptoms affect your everyday life
  • whether the pain is disturbing your sleep 
  • whether there's anything that makes the pain better or worse
  • if you have any other health conditions, or if you're taking any medication

Physical examination

During the physical examination, your GP may test your range of movement by asking you to move your arm and shoulder as far as you can in each direction.

Your GP may apply pressure to parts of your shoulder, to determine where your pain is most severe and what's causing it. They'll also look for any swelling, bruising or muscle wasting.

Further tests 

You may sometimes need to have further tests to rule out other possible health conditions.

For example, if your GP thinks you may have diabetes, a blood test may be recommended. Frozen shoulder is more common in people with diabetes.


An image of your shoulder joint may be taken to check for any physical signs that could suggest another cause of your symptoms. For example, wear and tear caused by arthritis, or a tear in the tendons around the shoulder.

This may involve:

Page last reviewed: 17/03/2016

Next review due: 17/03/2018