I went on a brilliant workshop a couple of weekends ago on “Massage Therapy for Frozen Shoulder & Related Conditions” at the Middlesex School of Complementary Medicine.

It was a very practical workshop and I got lots of new treatment techniques to take home with me which I can now use on my clients.

I was told that 1 out of 50 of us will suffer from Frozen Shoulder sometime during our lifetime, usually between the age of 40 – 60? The majority will be women and it usually effects the non dominant shoulder. There is no particular reason for why this is.


The shoulder joint is a very sophisticated and complicated joint. It really consists of two joints, the glenohumeral joint which is the major joint and the acromioclavicular joint. The joint is held together by extensive ligament and muscle attachments and certain types of forces can weaken the shoulder easily.

Did you know that our shoulder joint is the most movable joint in our body?

What is Frozen Shoulder, also called Adhesive Capsulitis?

It is really what the name tells you – a shoulder that is “frozen” or “glued together”. Your shoulder will be stiff and you will have a very limited range of movement and it will be painful to move. You could feel excruciating pain when making a sudden move or jerk. You might even have constant pain.

A frozen shoulder can stop you from being able to do your job, driving, brushing your hair, putting your bra on, reaching for things, doing all the activities you enjoy and it give you lots of sleepless nights due to pain and discomfort. It can be very frustrating.

What causes Frozen Shoulder?

  • no specific cause, no specific onset- it gradually comes on
  • certain activities that cause stress to your shoulder joint, ie throwing a ball, freestyle swimming, overhead weight lifting
  • an underlying pathology such as bursitis, tendonitis, tendon rupture or a previous trauma to the shoulder join.

What can you do to get rid of it?

  • Massage can be very successful. It can relieve some or all of your pain an gradually increase your mobility after a few treatments and the massage will make you feel much more comfortable during the recovery period. TThis is a non-invasive treatment with absolutely no potential risks and complications which is a real advantage.
  • Nothing Yes, you can choose to do nothing, however you will have to live with the pain and discomfort that comes with it. It will eventually heal but it can possibly take you anything from 6 months to 2,5 years or maybe even longer to get your mobility back and to be pain free.
  • Steroid injection to relieve the pain and to be able to get some movement back in your joint. This might just temporarily ease or it might not do anything for you.
  • Surgery this will only be recommended in severe cases by a specialist in order to loosen up the tissues surrounding the joint. Surgery can of course be very successful but you need to bare in mind that there is always a risk involved and it may cause complications.
  • Stretches and Exercises which will help to stretch and loosen the muscles and some of the adhesions in the joint – these can be given to you by myself

My recommendation would always be to try massage first.

What would a typical massage treatment be like?

After a consultation and some muscle testing, I will be doing some manipulation to slowly start to get some movement in the joint. I work on all the muscles which are directy involved in the movment of the shoulder and the ones that have a stabilizing effect on the joint or one which refer pain to the shoulder.

This will follow by a general overall neck, shoulder and back massage , but with a focus on the shoulder, in order to warm up the muscles and release any overall tension. I will incorporate some therapeutic stretches as well as giving you advise on exercises to do between treatments at home to speed up the recovery.

What can you expect from a Massage Treatment?

You might need up to three treatments until you notice any difference. If you would not feel any difference at all after the third or fourth treatment such as a reduction in pain and maybe slightly better movement, I will suggest my clients to go and see their GP in order to get a diagnosis before resuming treatment. Massage might not be the appropriate treatment if there is an underlying pathology.

If you have any questions, please give me a call.