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Frozen shoulder and adhesive capsulitis...same same but different.

Frozen shoulder and adhesive capsulitis are two conditions that are often lumped together by many massage therapists (including myself) as being one and the same. However if we take a closer look, it may not be the case.

In both cases, frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis can have similar symptoms characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. Both can be debilitating.


Some believe chronic inflammation of the joint capsule to be the main distinction between adhesive capsulitis and frozen shoulder.

The combination of fibrosed capsular folds, chronic inflammation, and reduced hydration, prevents the humeral head from sliding and gliding smoothly through its full range of motion. As the capsule looses its ability to stretch, the shoulder gets stuck and becomes stiff and painful, just like a frozen shoulder.

The term frozen shoulder is vague, it doesn’t tell much about the client’s problem or the cause of the problem. Following this line of reasoning, a frozen shoulder may be described as rotator cuff spasm, impingement syndrome with protective guarding, or micro ligamentous adhesions around the joint capsule or bursae.

In both cases, treatment is still directed at the joint capsule. When a joint is not free to move, the muscles that move it cannot be free to move, and compensations occur. Therefore, the goal for any remedial massage therapists is to establish optimal joint play and joint centration through different techniques like mobilizations, strain-counter strain, Spencer technique and of course massage.

If you have a stiff or frozen shoulder, or have a limited range of motion in the shoulder joint, come and see me at Buderim Massage Clinic. Book online at www.buderimmassageclinic.com. Health rebates available.

*New client special - $50 for a 60 min Remedial massage*



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