frozen shoulder Perth

Frozen shoulder Perth

Everything you need to know about frozen shoulder

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Frozen shoulder symptoms

What is a frozen shoulder?

Do you have a stiff shoulder, and has it become increasingly more painful and stiffer, making it difficult to move your arm? You may have a condition called frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis

It is a painful shoulder condition and, as mentioned above, it is characterised by stiffness and gradual loss of motion in your shoulder. Frozen shoulder occurs in about 2 per cent of the general population, and is most common between the ages of 40 and 60. It’s also more common in women than in men.

Dr Sven Goebel | Shoulder Surgeon Perth

frozen shoulder Perth

The symptoms associated with frozen shoulder include:

  • Dull or aching pain with shoulder or arm motion
  • Shoulder stiffness and tightness, progressively worsening
  • Pain located over the outer shoulder area and sometimes the upper arm
  • Limited range of motion
  • Limited shoulder function and strength secondary to pain
  • Shooting pain down the arm when stretching out to reach objects
  • “Nerve pain” down the arm

Frozen shoulder progresses through three phases

The shoulder joint is enclosed in a capsule of connective tissue that is normally very thin and elastic. Frozen shoulder happens when the connective tissue tightens, and becomes thick and inflamed.

  • Stage 1 or freezing stage: The first phase is characterised by increasing pain and later stiffness and usually lasts for 2 to 3 months.
  • Stage 2 or frozen stage: In the second phase the pain is at its peak, and stiffness is at its worst. This stage typically lasts 4 to 6 months
    Stage 3 or thawing phase:
  • The final phase is the gradual resolution of pain and then stiffness. This stage may take 6 months to 12 months.

Frozen shoulder generally resolves on its own but it may take up to 2 years. Non-surgical and surgical treatments options are available.

Frozen shoulder specialist Perth

How is it diagnosed?

As your shoulder specialist I ask you about the history of your condition. I will direct you to perform various movements with your arm and I will check if there are any limitations – this is what we call checking the active range of motion. I will then examine your shoulder and move it carefully in different directions to check your passive range of motion.

Active range of motion refers to you moving your shoulder on your own, and passive range of motion refers to me moving your shoulder for you. I will check if you have limited range of motion both actively and passively, which is the hallmark finding of frozen shoulder.

Dr Sven Goebel, Frozen Shoulder Specialist Perth

Other tests may include:

  • X-rays: They show a clear image of bony structures and may show other causes of a limited range of motion, such as shoulder arthritis.
  • MRI and ultrasound tests: They can show soft tissues like muscles, tendons, cartilage and ligaments which may help identify other shoulder issues such as a torn rotator cuff.

Frozen shoulder surgeon Perth

Surgery for frozen shoulder?

First-line treatment involves oral medication to treat the pain and gentle physiotherapy or hydrotherapy to maintain shoulder motion. To treat acute pain, intra-articular (into the joint) injections of local anaesthetic and corticosteroids can be helpful. 

Surgery for frozen shoulder is rare, but if your symptoms persist despite time and adequate non-surgical treatment, this may be your best option. The aim of surgery is to release the tight, scarred capsule of connective tissue. This is performed after manipulating your arm to regain motion and then using an arthroscopic (key-hole) procedure to free up tight structures inside the joint.

After your surgery, it is important to follow up with a diligent physiotherapy program in order to maintain the joint mobility gained during the procedure. Most patients have very good outcomes with this type of surgery.

frozen shoulder Perth

Frozen shoulder surgery recovery time

What happens after surgery?

During a consultation, I will explain which exercises you can do for optimal recovery.
In general I recommend these timelines after surgery to return to specific activities:

Having a shower:

1 day after surgery

Light exercise:

2-3 weeks after surgery


Once able to lift arm 90 degrees with minimal discomfort

Normal exercise:

4-6 weeks after surgery

Going back to work:

Once comfortable and able to perform usual duties