Can dry needling help frozen shoulder? Yes! Dry needling can provide rapid improvement in frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis. If you’re dealing with a frozen shoulder and other treatments have provided limited relief, dry needling may a good next step.

Frozen shoulder can be frustrating to deal with, especially since it typically has a long recovery time and often has no obvious cause. Our AccessHealth chiropractors in Cary are familiar with diagnosing and treating this condition. In this content, I’ll answer some common questions like: What is Frozen Shoulder? Can Dry Needling Help Frozen Shoulder? and How to Treat Frozen Shoulder (Besides Dry Needling)?

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis is a condition where your shoulder becomes stiff, painful, and you lose shoulder range of motion. It’s aptly named because your shoulder literally feels frozen in place. It’s a frustrating condition because it can sometimes take years to get over, especially if it’s not being treated.

The fibrous cover around your shoulder joint is called the joint capsule. It’s made from a fibrous tissue called connective tissue. In frozen shoulder, this capsule of tissue thickens and keeps the shoulder from having it’s normal range of motion. It’s a strange condition because it’s not always clear why this happens. We do know some of the risk factors and they are as follows:

  • Females
  • Over 40 years of age
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid problems
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Tuberculosis

The cases I’ve treated have been in women who’re slender and their shoulder becomes “frozen” for no particular reason. One of my patients even had it affect both of her shoulders, although it’s typically only in one shoulder.

Remember, even if you don’t fit any of these criteria, it doesn’t mean it can’t be frozen shoulder that’s causing your shoulder pain and tightness. It’s hard to tell if it’s frozen shoulder without an exam first, but even if it isn’t, dry needling can still provide relief for other causes of shoulder tightness and pain.

See some of my other content on dry needling below:

–> Dry Needling for Shoulder Tightness

–> Dry Needling for Shoulder Injuries

–> Dry Needling for Shoulder Impingement

–> Dry Needling for Upper Trapezius Pain

Can Dry Needling Help Frozen Shoulder?

Dry needling can provide rapid improvement in your case of frozen shoulder. Dry needling allows your provider to address myofascial trigger points and connective tissue restrictions that are keeping your shoulder frozen. By utilizing dry needling for frozen shoulder, you may get better range of motion and relief of discomfort that is immediate.

Here’s a great published case study of a patient who was successfully treated with dry needling –> Trigger point dry needling as an adjunct treatment for a patient with adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder.

Dry needling is probably the most aggressive conservative treatment for your frozen shoulder. Although it’s aggressive, in my experience using dry needling for adhesive capsulitis and other shoulder injuries, it produces quicker improvement than other physical medicine treatments. I would encourage anyone suffering from frozen shoulder to find a chiropractor who uses dry needling as a treatment.


Here’s an image of a frozen shoulder under MRI imaging. Typically you don’t need an MRI to diagnose frozen shoulder, but in advanced cases or cases that don’t respond well to treatment, it may be helpful. This specific case of frozen shoulder appears to have been caused by an injected contrast dye. I would suspect that’s fairly rare.

How to Treat Frozen Shoulder (Besides Dry Needling)?

Dry needling is not the only treatment available to address your frozen shoulder. In fact, I’d recommend using dry needling as a piece of your rehab strategy vs a stand-alone treatment. Other treatments that may help relieve pain and improve functional deficits from adhesive capsulitis include:

In my opinion, chiropractic care is the best treatment option for your frozen shoulder. Chiropractors are experts at evaluating and improving joint stiffness, joint restriction, and range of motion deficits. Our Cary NC chiropractors provide dry needling and the other above treatments and use them in a comprehensive plan to help relieve your frozen shoulder.

Dr. Jason Williams DC is a chiropractic physician practicing at AccessHealth Chiropractic in Cary, NC. He treats neuromusculoskeletal pain and injuries using chiropractic manipulation, dry needling, acupuncture, rehab exercise strategies, and other supportive therapies. Primary areas of focus include back pain, neck pain, muscular pain, extremity pain, and orthopedic injuries. Dr. Williams is experienced in treating athletes, especially those in the CrossFit, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and MMA community.

If you’re interested in whether he or another AccessHealth provider can help you, navigate to our contact page or follow this link to request an appointment.