How to "Unfreeze" your Frozen Shoulder with Physical Therapy - Professional Rehabilitation Services

How to “Unfreeze” your Frozen Shoulder with Physical Therapy

By: Samantha Crisafulli, PT, DPT

Spring is right around the corner (we can only hope), and everyone is eager to get outside and go for a bike ride, play golf or go for a walk. Along with spring, comes dreadful yard work around your home that requires repetitive motions of your arms and especially shoulders. These repetitive motions can cause minor shoulder pain that may turn into severe pain and eventually a frozen shoulder.

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. The bones, ligaments and tendons that make up the shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, restricting motion. This diagnosis typically develops slowly and in three stages that may last several months each:

  1. Freezing stage: Any movement of the shoulder causes pain, and your range of motion starts to become limited.
  2. Frozen stage: Pain may begin to diminish during this stage. However, your shoulder becomes stiffer and using it becomes more difficult.
  3. Thawing stage: The range of motion in your shoulder begins to improve.
Image showing comparison between normal shoulder joint and frozen shoulder joint

Doctors are unsure why this happens to some people, although it is more likely to occur in people who have diabetes, people 40 or older, particularly women or those who recently had to immobilize their shoulder for a long period, following surgery or an arm fracture.

Frozen shoulder may get better on its own within 12-18 months or your doctor may suggest steroid injections or surgery to remove scar tissue and adhesions from inside your shoulder joint. Another option, that is non-operative and non-steroidal is physical therapy. With a referral from your doctor, a Physical Therapist will perform a mechanical and musculoskeletal examination of your shoulder to determine the extent of the condition and potential for rehabilitation. Physical therapy will consist of soft tissue mobilization, passive range of motion, therapeutic modalities and therapeutic exercises, which will improve your shoulder range of motion and strength, while decreasing the pain and allowing you to return to those outdoor activities you enjoy doing. As your shoulder pain decreases and mobility improves, your therapist will provide you with a home exercise program to continue the exercises at home and prevent the risk of developing this condition again.

At Professional Rehabilitation Services, we treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal and neurological conditions using the latest in evidence-based therapies provided by highly credentialed physical therapists. Professional Rehabilitation Services has eight convenient locations in Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet, Surfside Beach, Market Common, Myrtle Beach, Carolina Forest, Conway, and Little River.

For further information on this or other related topics you can contact Richard DeFalco, DPT, OCS, CSCS, CWcHP at Professional Rehabilitation Services (Myrtle Beach) (843) 839-1300, Brian P. Kinmartin PT, DPT, MTC, STC, OCS, CWcHP (Pawleys Island) (843) 235-0200, Richard A. Owens, MPT, OCS, Cert. SMT, CWcHP (Surfside) (843) 831-0163, Jill P. Phelan, PT, DPT, Cert. DN (Conway) (843) 773-3031, Lisa O'Brien, PT, DPT, Cert. DN (Murrells Inlet) (843) 314-3224, Karl Ehlers, PT, DPT, Cert. DN (Little River) (843) 281- 4222, Samantha Crisafulli PT, DPT (Carolina Forest) (843) 282-0440, Zach Daniels PT, DPT (Market Commons) (843) 213-6338 or visit our website at where you can learn more about the company and even download a referral form for your physician to fill out. You can also call and schedule a free 15-minute consultation.

Call Us Today !

Our Locations

From Pawleys Island to Myrtle Beach and Conway, Professional Rehabilitation Services provides Physical Therapy Services for the Georgetown, Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach, Murrells Inlet, Socastee, Myrtle Beach, Conway and Little River South Carolina communities.