Medical Treatments for Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a painful and often debilitating condition characterized by stiffness and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint. It can significantly affect daily activities and quality of life. Understanding the available medical treatments is crucial for managing this condition effectively. This article delves into the top medical treatments for frozen shoulder, helping you navigate your options for relief and recovery. Are you looking for more information regarding frozen shoulder? Then visit frozen shoulder specialist singapore to learn more.

Understanding Frozen Shoulder

Before exploring treatment options, it’s essential to understand what frozen shoulder is. This condition typically progresses through three stages:

  1. Freezing Stage: Pain gradually increases, and the range of motion begins to decrease. This stage can last from six weeks to nine months.
  2. Frozen Stage: Pain may reduce, but stiffness remains, making it difficult to move the shoulder. This stage can last from four to six months.
  3. Thawing Stage: The range of motion starts to improve, and the shoulder gradually returns to normal. This stage can last from six months to two years.

Top Medical Treatments for Frozen Shoulder

1. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often the first line of treatment for frozen shoulder. A physical therapist can design a personalized exercise program to improve the range of motion and reduce pain. Key components of physical therapy for frozen shoulder include:

  • Stretching Exercises: Gentle stretching exercises help to increase flexibility and mobility in the shoulder joint.
  • Strengthening Exercises: These exercises focus on strengthening the muscles around the shoulder to provide better support and stability.
  • Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques performed by a therapist to mobilize the shoulder joint and reduce stiffness.

2. Medications

Medications can help manage the pain and inflammation associated with frozen shoulder. Commonly prescribed medications include:

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Medications like ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroids: These can be taken orally or injected directly into the shoulder joint to provide significant relief from pain and inflammation.

3. Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections are often used when oral medications and physical therapy do not provide adequate relief. These injections deliver powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly into the shoulder joint, reducing pain and improving mobility. While effective, these injections are typically limited due to potential side effects with repeated use.

4. Hydrodilatation

Hydrodilatation, also known as distension arthrography, is a procedure where a sterile solution is injected into the shoulder joint. This injection expands the joint capsule, breaking up adhesions and reducing stiffness. This procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia and can provide significant improvement in shoulder mobility.

5. Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA)

Manipulation under anesthesia is a procedure where the shoulder is forcibly moved through its range of motion while the patient is under general anesthesia. This process can help break up scar tissue and adhesions, improving mobility. MUA is typically considered when other treatments have failed to provide sufficient relief.

6. Shoulder Arthroscopy

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure where a small camera (arthroscope) and surgical instruments are inserted into the shoulder joint through small incisions. This allows the surgeon to remove scar tissue and adhesions that are causing the stiffness. Arthroscopy is often recommended for severe cases that do not respond to non-surgical treatments.

7. Capsular Release Surgery

Capsular release surgery involves cutting through the tight portions of the joint capsule to release the shoulder and improve its range of motion. This surgery is usually performed arthroscopically and is considered when conservative treatments have failed to produce results.

8. Alternative Therapies

In addition to conventional medical treatments, some patients find relief from alternative therapies. These can include:

  • Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese medicine technique involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain and improve mobility.
  • Massage Therapy: Therapeutic massage can help reduce muscle tension and improve blood flow to the shoulder area.
  • Chiropractic Care: Chiropractors may use adjustments and manipulations to improve shoulder function and reduce pain.

Combining Treatments for Optimal Results

Often, the best approach to treating frozen shoulder involves a combination of treatments. For example, physical therapy combined with corticosteroid injections or hydrodilatation can provide more significant relief than either treatment alone. Working closely with a healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific needs is crucial.

Prevention and Maintenance

Preventing frozen shoulder, especially if you’ve had it before, involves maintaining shoulder mobility and strength. Here are some tips:

  • Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity that includes shoulder exercises to keep the joint flexible and strong.
  • Stretching: Incorporate daily stretching routines focusing on the shoulder joint.
  • Avoiding Injury: Be cautious to avoid shoulder injuries, especially if you are prone to shoulder issues.

When to Seek Medical Attention

It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience persistent shoulder pain or stiffness that interferes with daily activities. Early intervention can prevent the condition from worsening and reduce the duration of symptoms.


Frozen shoulder can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right combination of treatments, relief is possible. Physical therapy, medications, injections, and surgical options provide a range of solutions tailored to the severity and stage of the condition. By understanding these options and working closely with healthcare professionals, you can take proactive steps toward recovery and regain your shoulder’s functionality.