Frozen shoulder (also called adhesive capsulitis) is the temporary loss of normal range of motion in the shoulder. It tends to get worse and can lead to considerable disability. The condition typically affects adults over age 40, and women more often than men.
The condition typically affects adults over age 40, and women more often than men.
Experts don’t fully understand what causes frozen shoulder. An inflammatory process is probably involved. Often a shoulder freezes up because it hasn’t been used for a while because of pain, injury, surgery, or illness.
In most cases, a frozen shoulder can be unfrozen, although full recovery may take months and a lot of self-help.
Exercises for Frozen Shoulder
Warm up your shoulder before performing your frozen shoulder exercises. The best way to do that is to take a warm shower or bath for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also use a moist heating pad or a damp towel heated in the microwave, but it may not be as effective.
- Hold one end of a three-foot-long towel behind your back and grab the opposite end with your other hand.
- Hold the towel in a horizontal position. Use your good arm to pull the affected arm upward to stretch it.
- You can also do an advanced exercise with the towel draped over your suitable shoulder. Hold the bottom of the towel with the affected arm and pull it toward the lower back with the unaffected arm.
- Do this 10 to 20 times a day.
- Face a wall three-quarter of an arm’s length away.
- Reach out and touch the wall at waist level with the fingertips of the affected arm. With your elbow slightly bent, slowly walk your fingers up the wall, spider-like, until you’ve raised your arm as far as you comfortably can.
- Your fingers should be doing the work, not your shoulder muscles. Slowly lower the arm (with the help of the good arm, if necessary) and repeat.
- Perform this exercise 10 to 20 times a day.
- Sit or stand. Use your good arm to lift your affected arm at the elbow, and bring it up and across your body, exerting gentle pressure to stretch the shoulder.
- Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Do this 10 to 20 times per day.
- Using your good arm, lift the affected arm onto a shelf about breast-high.
- Gently bend your knees, opening up the armpit.
- Deepen your knee bend slightly, gently stretching the armpit, and then straighten. With each knee bend, stretch a little further, but don’t force it. Do this 10 to 20 times each day.
- As your range of motion improves, add rotator cuff–strengthening exercises.
- Be sure to warm up your shoulder and do your stretching exercises before you perform strengthening exercises.
- Hold a rubber exercise band between your hands with your elbows at a 90-degree angle close to your sides.
- Rotate the lower part of the affected arm outward two or three inches and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 to 15 times, once a day.
- Stand next to a closed door, and hook one end of a rubber exercise band around the doorknob. Hold the other end with the hand of the affected arm, holding your elbow at a 90-degree angle.
- Pull the band toward your body two or three inches and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 to 15 times, once a day.
Stretch only to the degree that is comfortable on any given day. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits, and discontinue the exercises if you experience pain that goes beyond mild discomfort.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.