To describe treatment of frozen shoulder syndrome (adhesive capsulitis) via conservative chiropractic treatment to the shoulder joint, utilizing specific contact, low force, instrumental adjusting procedures. A case report, providing an illustrative example of the same, is presented along with a review of the relevant literature.


A 53-yr-old woman suffered severe shoulder pain of over 6 months’ duration. The patient had been diagnosed as having adhesive capsulitis and had undergone a variety of different treatment regimens without obtaining relief, including various NSAIDs, analgesics and physical therapy. At the time of her presentation, her condition had progressed to the point of near total immobility of the shoulder joint, accompanied by severe pain with resulting marked restriction in her normal activities of daily living.


The patient’s shoulder was conservatively managed with chiropractic adjustments to the affected shoulder joint, as well as to the cervicothoracic spine. Treatment consisted of mechanical force, manually assisted short lever chiropractic adjustments, delivered via an Activator Adjusting Instrument. Successful resolution of the presenting symptomatology was achieved.


Chiropractic care may be able to provide an effective mode of therapeutic treatment for certain types of these difficult cases. Low force instrumental adjustments, in particular, may present certain benefits in these cases that the more forceful manipulations and/or mobilizations cannot. As such, further formal investigation of this type of therapeutic intervention for treatment of frozen shoulder may be warranted on a larger scale.

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995 Feb;18(2):105-15. [PMID:7790781]

Author information: Polkinghorn BS. Private practice of chiropractic. Santa Monica, CA, USA.