Shoulder stiffness causes the limitation of movement range in the shoulder. This condition affects the articular shoulder capsule in which the ligaments of the shoulder are encased. The swelling of the capsule forms scars tissue, causing stiffness in the shoulder.
This condition can impact one or both shoulders. Although the real cause of frozen shoulder is not known, there are some risk factors to be taken into consideration, such as surgery or injury on the affected shoulder, diabetes, chronic heart condition, a previous stroke, overactive or underactive thyroid and people aged over 40.
Treatments and home exercises for frozen shoulder
The treatment for pain and stiffness in the shoulder depends on the severity of the condition. The first step that any doctor would take is to prescribe painkillers such as Ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling. But to restore shoulder mobility, there are some efficient procedures and exercises to be done.
- Hot/cold treatment
Applying hot and cold packs will help reduce the swelling and pain and also increase blood circulation in the shoulder. The application should be repeated a few times daily.
- Physical therapy
A physiotherapist will combine massage, exercise and hot/cold treatments. These treatments can also be reapplied at home under the supervision of a professional.
- TENS machine
The TENS machine uses small pads through which it sends electrical impulses to the affected area. The Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation machines can be purchased or rented, but you will need the advice of a professional to know where to place the pads.
- Corticosteroid injections
Corticosteroid injections have proven to be efficient in relieving inflammation and pain and restore the shoulder’s movement. These injections do not cure frozen shoulder, being just a mask for the pain. That is why doctors do not recommend repeated corticosteroid injections.
- Pendulum stretch
There are several exercises to relieve shoulder stiffness, and you can do them by yourself at home, without the supervision of a professional. One of these exercises is pendulum stretch. Slightly lean over and let your affected arm hang down. Swing it in small circles for 10-15 times clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Do this once a day.
- Towel stretch
Hold a towel in a horizontal position behind your back and pull it with your good arm. This way, you will pull and stretch the affected arm upwards. You can repeat this exercise 10-20 times once a day.
- Finger Walk
Touch a wall with the fingertips from your affected arm while you face the wall at a short distance. Walk your fingers slowly from the waist level up as far as you comfortably can. Let your fingers do all the work, not your shoulder muscles. Repeat 10-20 times on a daily basis.
- Cross-Body Reach
This exercise can be done while you stand or sit. Lift the affected arm at the elbow level using your good arm and bring it across the body using only gentle pressure to stretch the affected arm. Hold in place for around 15 seconds and repeat 10-15 times daily.
These are only some of the treatments and exercises that can restore mobility in your shoulder. You can do most of them in the privacy of your home, without daily visits to the clinic. If these techniques do not show any results, you may need to consider surgery.