Physiotherapy for Frozen Shoulder

What is “Frozen Shoulder”?

“Frozen Shoulder” is also known as adhesive capsulitis, is characterized by extreme stiffness or immobility in the shoulder joint, usually following injury, and caused by the adhesions of connective tissue in the shoulder joint and inflammation of the capsule of the humerus. This tends to strike both men and women from the age of forty to sixty years. People with diabetes are especially prone to suffering from it, and some research shows adhesive capsulitis can carry an increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease or similar symptoms with advancing age. A person suffering from frozen will have inflamed tissues around the joint of the affected shoulder, making it difficult to reach up or reach to the back of the body. A dull pain also accompanies it.

Manual hands-on therapy by either a physiotherapist or registered massage therapist, combined with home exercises for frozen shoulder are the best therapy one can do to get rid of this painful and potentially debilitating condition. The best part of it is that these exercises are very easy to do, take only a few minutes each day, need no expensive or specialized equipment, and can be done at home.

Plan on doing the prescribed home exercises once or twice a day every day. First and foremost, warm up the affected shoulder by wrapping it with a hot towel and not allowing it to cool for 15 minutes. Another effective warm-up is to soak in a warm bath or under a warm shower. Start the stretches immediately after.

Start off with very low impact movements. Stand or sit up straight with the arms hanging loosely by your side. Gently swing the arms forward and backward, keeping the range of motion to no more than 45 degrees, or less if it causes an increase in pain.

Also, swing the arms from side to side, also within a limited range of motion. The keys to this stretch’s effectiveness are that there should be no increased pain and the movements should be gentle.

Next, swing the arms in a small circle, about a foot in diameter, swinging them first in one direction and then the other. Perform two sets of ten of the three adhesive capsulitis stretches, increasing the motion range after a week. Again, at no time during these exercises should there be an increase in pain. If you feel a stoppage in a certain direction, never force it. Just swing the arm as far as it will go without pain. As you do the movements daily, you should notice the stoppage receding.

After a week, you can increase the load on your arms by carrying something of moderate weight, like a one-pound dumbbell or a bag with a book or two in it. You can also increase the range of your swings, as long as doing so stays comfortable and you do not feel that you are forcing the movement in any direction.

Continue these exercises for frozen shoulder, and you should soon feel your affected joint easing up, the swelling going down, and your normal range of motion improved. If you need more help, book with one of our physiotherapists or massage therapists for professional care of your problem.