Your shoulder is not moving like it should and nothing you try seems to be working. Your doctor tells you that you have adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder and that most people recover within 2 years. Here is a deeper look at frozen shoulder syndrome.

According to the National Library of Medicine; frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is “an inflammatory condition characterized by shoulder stiffness, pain, and significant loss of passive range of motion.” Even more alarming, they report long-term disability in ten to twenty percent of patients, not to mention that persistent symptoms of this disorder can linger in thirty to sixty percent of people afflicted with this condition.

Most experiencing symptoms of frozen shoulder will start with debilitating shoulder pain on their non-dominant side. The median age for this pathology is 55 with women being slightly more prone than their male counterparts. The initial onset presents as shoulder pain which can get worse in the evenings. As this malady progresses, finding a comfortable position, anytime of the day, becomes a challenge. These onset symptoms may last anywhere from two to eight months in most people. As frozen shoulder progresses, people will feel less pain in the shoulder but movement in any direction will be very limited. This “frozen phase” can last anywhere from four to twelve months. Then comes “the thaw”, when movement slowly begins to return. Full range of motion may be out of reach for up to 24 months for some. 

Having a painful immobilized shoulder can be frustrating and inconvenient. Treatments may include steroid shots, physical therapy, and in some cases, forced movement of the joint while under anesthesia. Aggressive cases may lead to a surgical resolution but this solution is less common. 

A client came to me with adhesive capsulitis that occurred after a car accident in 2003. She had seen a doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist and other massage therapists. She was referred to me by another client with shoulder issues in March of 2021. Five sessions later she had full range of motion with no pain in her shoulder after 19 years of restriction.

A soft tissue specialist can be your best ally when it comes to treating and recovery. Medical massage can decrease your pain, increase your range of motion, and compress the time table for recovery. If adhesive capsulitis is interrupting your day to day activities, working with someone to release restricted tissues will produce amazing results. When addressing this pathology it is important to note that your shoulder will lock down in a specific order, usually starting with the muscle on the underside of your scapula. If you do not “unlock” the shoulder in the proper order your results will be limited. It is also important that your clinician understands the role of entrapped nerves in your body’s response to limiting your shoulder. Who you choose to work with will determine the effectiveness and duration of your outcome.

Medical massage is different from physical therapy. A physical therapist’s job is to help you strengthen and regain range of motion through exercise and soft tissue mobilization. While exercise is beneficial, when dealing with a frozen shoulder it is mostly a restriction of the capsule and muscular contraction surrounding the shoulder girdle. A medical massage therapist is able to spend an entire session working with the release of the muscular patterns involved and the fascial or connective tissues within the joint capsule. Once this soft tissue work is complete the work you do with the physical therapist can catapult your results.  The best outcome is to have your physical therapist and your medical massage therapist working together, creating a compounding effect on the speed and completeness of your shoulder release. 

We, at Body Innervation Massage, are equipped to assess and treat the soft tissue restrictions of adhesive capsulitis. If you would like more information please visit us at to book a session. We are offering a special $45 initial 60 minute assessment with treatment for first time clients.