Living with frozen shoulder. ‘Here are the risks. I want the injection’. An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Christine Bilsborough Smith, Kayathiri Nadesan, Melinda Cairns, Rachel Chester, Jeremy Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Frozen shoulder is a disabling condition characterised by severe pain and loss of shoulder movement and may affect up to 5% of the population. Qualitative research documents debilitating pain and how treatment to reduce pain is a priority for people diagnosed with frozen shoulder. Corticosteroid injections are a principal treatment to reduce the pain of frozen shoulder, however little is known about the patient experience.

Objectives: This study aims to address this gap in the knowledge by exploring the lived experience of people with frozen shoulder who have undergone an injection and to highlight other novel findings.

Design: This is a qualitative study using interpretative phenomenological analysis. One-to-one, semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven people diagnosed with frozen shoulder who had received a corticosteroid injection as part of their management.

Methodology: A purposive sample of participants were interviewed via MSTeams™ due to Covid-19 restrictions. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews and analysed in accordance with interpretive phenomenological analysis methods.

Results: Three group experiential themes were identified: the dilemma surrounding injections; the challenges of understanding the causes of frozen shoulder; the impact on self and others.

Conclusion: Participants conveyed a strong desire in seeking a corticosteroid injection whilst seemingly dismissing the risks. A novel concept was illuminated as frozen shoulder seemed inextricably linked with the ageing process, which negatively impacted body-image. The impact on others is driven by a sense of the unfamiliar nature of illness and it is incumbent on healthcare professionals to seek opportunities to explore the individual's beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102755
JournalMusculoskeletal Science and Practice
Early online date4 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Frozen shoulder
  • Injections
  • Phenomenology
  • Psychosocial

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