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Animal Osteopathy

The principles of osteopathy are equally applicable to animals, whether domestic pets or high performance competition horses.

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Frozen Shoulder

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a poorly understood condition, sometimes referred to as "adhesive capsulitis". At its worst, sufferers will have virtually constant pain and may be unable to move the affected arm more than a few degrees in any direction. There are 3 distinct stages: freezing, frozen and thawing. The conditon may eventually resolve itself to some degree but, without treatment, this can take up to 3 years and most sufferers are left with some degree of pain or restricted movement.

Often there is no obvious cause for a frozen shoulder, but it can be associated with other medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or thyroid disorders.

What are the usual treatment options?

The clip here from Radio 4's "Inside health" gives an excellent overview of the options, as seen by very experienced shoulder surgeon Simon Lambert, consultant to the Problem Shoulder Unit at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, London. The preferred surgery these days is a keyhole incision to trim away and release thickened tissue, but even Mr Lambert accepts that his results are good only because he selects his patients carefully - unless your movement is extremely restricted (unable to point your forearm directly to the front) he recommends physical therapy (actually, he says "physiotherapy", but we'll forgive him that!).

There are other options. You may be prescribed steroid injections to reduce the inflammation - these can work, but only if you have them before the frozen shoulder actually starts, according to Mr Lambert! Note also the chance of success with these is very low unless the injections are guided by a radiologist. Ultrasound and/or TENS (electrical stimulation of the area in order to reduce pain) are also possible. The more drastic and invasive option is an orthopaedic procedure known as "Manipulation Under Anaesthetic". In this, the shoulder is forced into its full range of motion while the patient is unconscious. This will also be followed by up to 20 sessions of physical therapy. It has serious possible risks associated with it and is definitely not the treatment of choice these days. In an interview with Steven Bruce (Ashgrove Clinic Director and one of the senior osteopaths) in August 2014, Mr Lambert was more direct, "Manipulation Under Anaesthetic is quite dangerous."

Trials have failed to show consistent success with any of these options, and the potential side-effects can be serious.

Typical Symptoms
  • Constant pain inside the shoulder joint.
  • Pain down the outside of the arm.
  • Severe sharp pain on certain movements.
  • Night pain.
  • Rapid stiffening and immobility of the shoulder.

What do we offer?

Several members of our team have undertaken specialist training in Frozen Shoulder treatment. The technique we use was developed by one of the UK's leading osteopaths. In a Randomised Placebo Controlled Trial conducted at Cambridge's Addenbrookes Hospital, this technique was shown to produce a significant reduction in pain, together with considerable increases in strength and movement when compared to physiotherapy or a placebo. The evidence very strongly indicated that the technique we use is more effective than any of the conventional alternatives available.

Treating frozen shoulders is not a simple process. It is likely to take between 8 and 12 appointments to restore normal function, although we should be able to relieve your pain within 4 sessions. Occasionally, we may need to refer you for other investigations, as there are a number of conditions which can mimic the symptoms of frozen shoulder.

If you think you've got a frozen shoulder, but you're not sure, book in for a free consultation with us and let us help you make the right decision about whether you will benefit from treatment.

Our Frozen Shoulder Experts

All of the practitioners below have completed the specialist training in frozen shoulder.


Steven Bruce

Steven is one of the Directors of the Clinic.  He turned his efforts to osteopathy in 1995 after a lengthy career in the Royal Marines, graduating in 2000.  He has since specialised in Frozen Shoulder problems and Gait Analysis, and until recently was a lecturer in osteopathy at Oxford Brookes University.


Jason Sheridan
Jay has over 15 years experience in Sports Therapy and is probably one of the most highly qualified massage therapists in the country. He was recently awarded the UK’s highest level certification (Dip 5) in Sports and Remedial Massage, he's trained with the Football Association in treatment of acute injuries, and currently works with Wellingborough Rugby Football Club. He has worked closely with osteopaths for much of his career and has expertise across a wide range of sporting disciplines.


Ruth Walker

Ruth's big passion is treating horses, but she's amazing with shoulders, both equine and human!


Claire Short

Claire is one of the directors of the clinic and is fascinated by shoulder problems. She particularly likes the strain injuries to the area.