Treating Frozen Shoulder with Physiotherapy: Techniques and Recovery Timeline

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is identified by stiffness and discomfort in the joints of the shoulder, which leads to a limited range of motion. For those seeking relief, physiotherapy in Windermere offers a range of effective frozen shoulder therapies. Windermere physiotherapy clinics specialize in tailored plans that address the specific needs and recovery objectives of each patient. By adhering to a structured treatment protocol, individuals can see significant improvements in shoulder function over time, facilitating a return to normal activities and an enhanced quality of life.

Physiotherapy Techniques for Frozen Shoulders

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy aims to preserve as much range of motion as possible in the shoulder joint while reducing pain. This approach is crucial for patients with frozen shoulders, where stiffness and discomfort can severely limit everyday functionality.


  • Gentle Joint Mobilization: Involves applying controlled movements to the shoulder joint. These movements help to stretch the joint capsule and break down the adhesions that contribute to stiffness and pain.
  • Shoulder Stretching: Includes specific stretches that target the tissues surrounding the shoulder. Techniques such as cross-body reaches, and towel stretches help extend the range of motion by gently elongating the muscles and connective tissues.

Therapeutic Exercises

Therapeutic exercises are designed to prevent further deterioration of shoulder mobility and to gradually restore movement as the condition progresses from freezing to thawing.

Range of Motion Exercises:

  • Pendulum Swings: Involving leaning forward and allowing the affected arm to hang down, using momentum to swing the arm gently in small circles and back and forth.
  • Wall Climbing with Fingers: Stand facing a wall and slowly walk the fingers up the wall as high as possible without pain, then slowly back down.

Strengthening Exercises:

  • Isometric Shoulder Exercises: Involve contracting the shoulder muscles without actual movement of the joint, which helps increase strength without straining the joint.
  • Elastic Band Exercises: Resistance bands are used for external rotation, shoulder abduction, and other movements as strength improves to stabilize and strengthen the shoulder further.

Pain Management Techniques

The primary goal is to manage pain, which can be intense in the initial stages of a frozen shoulder, affecting both sleep and daily activities.


  • Heat Therapy: Applying warm packs or a heating pad to the shoulder to improve blood circulation and relax tight muscles, which can alleviate pain.
  • Ice Therapy: Using ice packs to reduce inflammation and numb severe pain, especially after exercises.
  • TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation): Electrical impulses stimulate the nerves in the affected region, which helps to obstruct pain signals to the brain.
  • Ultrasound Therapy: Utilizing sound waves to penetrate deep into muscle tissues, reducing inflammation and promoting healing.

Activity and Lifestyle Advice

Physiotherapy in Windermere also involves educating patients about daily lifestyle modifications to minimize shoulder strain and facilitate recovery.

Daily Activity Modifications

Objective: To minimize the load and stress on the affected shoulder while maintaining as much normal activity as possible.

  • Using the Unaffected Arm: For lifting or carrying heavy loads, patients are advised to use their unaffected arm or both arms, when possible, to reduce the burden on the affected shoulder.

Sleeping Positions

Objective: To reduce stress on the shoulder during rest, which can help alleviate pain and prevent stiffness in the morning.

  • Optimal Sleeping Positions: Patients with frozen shoulders may find relief by sleeping on their back with a pillow under the affected arm to support it in a slightly elevated position. Alternatively, if they prefer to sleep on the side, they should sleep on the unaffected side with a pillow in front of the body so the affected arm can rest on it comfortably.

Recovery Timeline for Frozen Shoulder

1. Freezing Stage

Duration: Typically, it lasts six weeks to 9 months. This stage varies significantly among individuals, depending on factors like initial health, timeliness of diagnosis, and commencement of treatment.


  • Increasing Pain: Initially, the pain may be mild and only felt when moving the arm, but it intensifies over time, becoming more persistent. This pain is especially noticeable at night and can disrupt sleep.
  • Decreasing Range of Motion: The shoulder gradually becomes stiff, making movements like raising the arm or reaching behind increasingly difficult. The loss of motion is a cause and effect of the pain as the joint capsule tightens and thickens.

2. Frozen Stage

Duration: It can last 4 to 12 months. The severity of the symptoms and the patient’s response to early treatment interventions can influence the length of this stage.


  • Stiffness Predominates: During this phase, while the pain might begin to diminish slightly, especially the pain experienced at rest, the stiffness remains or even worsens. This stiffness becomes the hallmark of this stage, limiting movement significantly.
  • Impact on Daily Activities: Activities requiring shoulder mobility, such as dressing or reaching overhead, become increasingly challenging and might require modifications or assistance.

3. Thawing Stage

Duration: Typically, this stage occurs over six months to 2 years. It can be lengthy, with gradual improvements that might not be noticeable day-to-day but are clear over months.


  • Gradual Improvement in Motion: The range of motion in the shoulder joint begins to improve. Initially, the improvements are slight, but over time, the ability to move the shoulder starts to return to normal.
  • Decrease in Pain: As mobility improves, the intense pain experienced during the freezing and frozen stages begins to subside. Residual discomfort might occur with sudden movements or when stretching the arm beyond the comfortable range but generally diminishes over time.

Regaining Mobility and Comfort

Momentum Physiotherapy offers comprehensive frozen shoulder treatment tailored to each individual’s needs. Experienced therapists at the clinic use proven techniques that help restore shoulder mobility and reduce pain effectively.

Searching for a “physiotherapist near me” can lead you to Momentum Physiotherapy, which provides skilled care to help you regain full function.

For anyone struggling with the limitations of a frozen shoulder, consider visiting Momentum Physiotherapy in Windermere. Our dedicated approach to physiotherapy can help you achieve more effective recovery.


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