Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)


As its common name indicates, this shoulder pathology which is quite common mainly consists in a significant decrease in the shoulder’s mobility. It also causes pain and stiffness. Its evolution is slow and progressive. Pain mostly occurs around the outer shoulder area with the inability to lie on the affected side, difficulty in shoulder elevation and external rotation (such as the movement for taking an object in the backseat of a car while being seated in the front) and with a normal appearance on x-rays.

Causes and symptoms

Adhesive capsulitis is caused by the thickening of the capsule (a complex of ligaments and tissues that surround the humeral head – the end of the humerus near the shoulder) and which stick to this humeral head. These two phenomena significantly affect the mobility.

3 phases

There are 3 phases: the pain phase, the “frozen” phase and the correction phase (” thawing”). During these 3 phases, mobility gradually improves. Recovery can sometimes take 12 to 42 months. During the process, it is not unusual to observe secondary muscle weakness due to underuse and compensatory shoulder movements.


The main goals are to reduce pain and regain mobility. The goal in physiotherapy is to correctly guide the patient during the different phases of evolution. Initially, direct treatments in physiotherapy consist in specific articular mobilizations, stretching, muscular techniques and passive mobilization These treatments are mainly used to reduce pain and to begin regaining movement, thus encouraging the patient to do the exercises. These exercises must be done within the limits of the pain.

The Physio Atlas physical therapists will guide you through this process and the evolution of your exercises according to the phase of the pathology, your leisure activities and your work. Our team has developed very detailed exercise videos to accompany your rehabilitation in order to provide you with an interesting tool for your exercises at home.