Frozen shoulder contracture syndrome - Aetiology, diagnosis and management

Man Ther. 2015 Feb;20(1):2-9. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2014.07.006. Epub 2014 Jul 18.


Frozen shoulder is a poorly understood condition that typically involves substantial pain, movement restriction, and considerable morbidity. Although function improves overtime, full and pain free range, may not be restored in everyone. Frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis, however the evidence for capsular adhesions is refuted and arguably, this term should be abandoned. The aim of this Masterclass is to synthesise evidence to provide a framework for assessment and management for Frozen Shoulder. Although used in the treatment of this condition, manipulation under anaesthetic has been associated with joint damage and may be no more effective than physiotherapy. Capsular release is another surgical procedure that is supported by expert opinion and published case series, but currently high quality research is not available. Recommendations that supervised neglect is preferable to physiotherapy have been based on a quasi-experimental study associated with a high risk of bias. Physiotherapists in the United Kingdom have developed dedicated care pathways that provide; assessment, referral for imaging, education, health screening, ultrasound guided corticosteroid and hydro-distension injections, embedded within physiotherapy rehabilitation. The entire pathway is provided by physiotherapists and evidence exists to support each stage of the pathway. Substantial on-going research is required to better understand; epidemiology, patho-aetiology, assessment, best management, health economics, patient satisfaction and if possible prevention.

Keywords: Assessment; Frozen shoulder; Management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bursitis / diagnosis*
  • Bursitis / etiology*
  • Bursitis / therapy*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations*
  • Range of Motion, Articular