“Ouch!” is the shared sentiment of those suffering from a frozen shoulder, also referred to as adhesive capsulitis. A frozen shoulder joint is one that is stiff, sore, painful, and limited in its range of motion. The symptoms of a frozen shoulder are usually gone within one to three years of their first appearance. However, that time period can be maddening for an individual with this condition.
Are You At Risk for Developing a Frozen Shoulder?
Here are a few signs that you might be at risk:
- You’ve had a shoulder injury.
- You have recently had surgery on your chest or breast(s).
- You have chronic inflammatory arthritis of the shoulder.
These signs by no means indicate that you will certainly develop a frozen shoulder. But, they do increase your chances of it.
How Is a Frozen Shoulder Treated?
As is the case with most health conditions, there are several remedies for a frozen shoulder. A few common ones include cortisone injections, anti-inflammatory medications, and physiotherapy. William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR and Catherine Burt Driver, MD wrote, “Diligent (physiotherapy) is often essential for recovery (from a frozen shoulder) and can include ultrasound, electric stimulation, range-of-motion exercise maneuvers, stretching, ice packs, and eventually strengthening exercises.” Physiotherapy plays a key role in someone’s recovery from a frozen shoulder. That’s why it’s so crucial that anyone having (or who thinks he or she may have) a frozen shoulder be seen by a physiotherapist.
3 Stretches to Ease the stiffness of a Frozen Shoulder
Only a physician or physiotherapist can determine how a patient can safely recover from a frozen shoulder. However, certain stretches are often beneficial in the treatment of this painful condition. The following three stretches, suggested by Harvard Health Publications in its article 7 Stretching and Strengthening Exercises for a Frozen Shoulder, may be helpful in easing the stiffness of a frozen shoulder:
- Cross-body reach – “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.”
- Armpit stretch – Use your good arm to lift your “bad” arm onto a breast-high shelf. Open your armpit by slightly bending your knees. “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.” You may do this 10 to 20 times each day.
- Finger walk – Stand about three-quarters of your arm’s length from a wall, facing the wall. “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.” Then lower your bad arm slowly and repeat the exercise. As with the other stretches, do this 10 to 20 times per day.
You will find illustrations of the stretches mentioned above here.
Note: if you are experiencing shoulder pain or stiffness, consult with a healthcare professional about the issue before attempting these stretches.
Have you ever had a frozen shoulder? If so, what gave you pain relief and helped you fully recover? Share with us in the section below.