Frozen Shoulder Signs and Symptoms

If you’re suffering with pain and stiffness in your shoulder joint, you may be experiencing frozen shoulder. While uncomfortable, there are steps you take to reduce the soreness and increase your mobility in the area. Read on to discover the key signs, symptoms, and risk factors of frozen shoulder, and what you can do about it.

Frozen shoulder signs and symptoms

There are two main signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder:

  • Stiffness around the affected joint, which may restrict movement
  • Severe pain in the shoulder and upper arm. This is often said to be worse at night (interfering with sleep) or when you’re trying to move your shoulder

Risk factors of a frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder happens when the tissues surrounding the ball-and-socket joint of your shoulder become inflamed, constricted and thickened – although the reason why this happens is often unclear. However, certain risk factors have been established for frozen shoulder, and you’re more likely to experience the condition if:

  • You have sustained a significant trauma to your shoulder, such as a shoulder dislocation.
  • You have previously had a shoulder injury or surgery on your shoulder.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have thyroid issues.
  • You have heart disease.

Treatment for a frozen shoulder

If left untreated, frozen shoulder can get better on its own, although this can take up to three years (sometimes longer). A visit to your GP or FCP (First Contact Physiotherapist) can help to determine whether the pain you’re experiencing is frozen shoulder and, once you have a diagnosis, there are steps you can take to help ease the discomfort. If you prefer, you can go directly to a physiotherapist at Surrey Physio. Osteopaths also successfully treat frozen shoulder and you can see one of the Surrey Physio osteopaths too.

Self-care for a frozen shoulder

Pain relief, in the form of paracetamol and ibuprofen, can be very helpful when navigating the discomfort of frozen shoulder. Always take as directed, and if you have any questions consult your pharmacist. A shoulder support can also be useful, such as a pillow placed beneath your arm when you’re sitting down, but it’s worth noting that it’s important to keep moving the shoulder normally, as far as your pain allows. Limiting movement can result in worsening pain.

Physiotherapy for frozen shoulder

Support from a Surrey Physio physiotherapist or osteopath is a key component of the treatment for frozen shoulder. Following assessment, your physiotherapist will be able to offer a tailored treatment plan suited to your needs. This will usually include:


Your physio or osteopath will be able to show you how to do a series of exercises that will work to lessen the pain you’re experiencing and will also help to increase the range of movement you have in your shoulder. They will also be able to offer advice on the best stretches to ease stiffness, as well as tips to aid optimum posture, which can help to lessen the pressure around your shoulder joint.

Manual therapy

As well as prescribing a programme of exercises, your physio or osteopath will be able to perform manual therapy, in the form of massage and joint mobilisation, to help relieve pain and encourage a better range of movement.

Call Surrey Physio on 0208 695 6930 or book online to see one of our amazing physiotherapists or osteopaths. Frozen shoulder is a common condition that can be helped with treatment.