Shoulder complaint: Frozen shoulder

A frozen shoulder is a common shoulder complaint. This condition poses many problems and has a long road to recovery.

What is a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder literally means ‘frozen shoulder’. The complaints usually start with a stiff and painful shoulder. These complaints are getting worse and the mobility of the shoulder is becoming less and less. A frozen shoulder usually only affects one arm at a time. And usually in women in the age group 40-65. There is a primary and a secondary frozen shoulder:

  • Primary frozen shoulder: the cause is unknown.
  • Secondary frozen shoulder: the cause is known, for example trauma. The progression of these two is the same.

What is the cause?

Anyone can develop a frozen shoulder, for example after an operation, fall or other trauma, but the exact cause is often not clear. It is thought that the shoulder first experiences an inflammatory process. But it can also develop if a person does not move their arm for a long time. The capsule in the shoulder becomes inflamed and sticky, causing the capsule to become harder, thicker and less elastic. The result of this is that shoulder movements are limited.


  • Loss of strength
  • Pain; during the day and at night
  • Mobility limitation
  • Lifting/lifting above the head
  • Rotating the upper arm
  • Daily activities can no longer be performed

A frozen shoulder develops slowly and goes through 3 stages:

  1. Phase One – This phase lasts approximately 2 to 9 months. The shoulder becomes stiff and painful, the pain also increases at night.
  2. Phase Two – This phase lasts 4 to 12 months. The pain decreases and movement is less painful. However, the range of motion is now much more limited to even 50% less than in the other (healthy) arm.
  3. Stage three – the problem begins to resolve (reduces). Most patients experience a gradual return of movement over 12 to 42 months. Some patients require surgery to completely return movement.

Frozen shoulder falls under CANS, which stands for ‘complaints of the arm, neck and/or shoulder’. This is a description of a complaint complex that is used by many healthcare providers.


There are various treatment methods for this condition. But usually patients are referred to the physiotherapist. This ensures that the circulation in the shoulder joint improves, that there is more space in the capsule through stretching, that muscle strength, mobility and coordination are improved, that pain decreases and that the patient can again perform his daily activities properly. This therapy is then combined with exercises that the patients must perform at home. If physiotherapy does not help, there are other treatment options; corticosteroid injections or even surgery. my view on