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elderly man experiencing shoulder pain while working out

What are the Best Remedies for Frozen Shoulder Pain?

Are you having trouble moving your shoulder due to pain and stiffness? It’s possible that you have a condition called frozen shoulder. 

Frozen shoulder causes pain in the shoulder joint, leading to reduced or complete immobility in more serious cases. It’s a condition that commonly affects women aged 40 and above.

In this blog, we’ll talk about frozen shoulder pain. We’ll cover its causes, diagnosis, and treatment to restore optimum shoulder function.

What Causes Frozen Shoulder Pain?

People may experience frozen shoulder pain (or adhesive capsulitis) when the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint gets scarred, grows thick, or shrinks. The root cause could be any of the following conditions:

  • Bursitis
  • Tendinitis
  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic inflammatory arthritis
  • Stroke
  • Mastectomy 

How is Frozen Shoulder Diagnosed?

Degenerative arthritis and shoulder joint inflammation are conditions that share the same symptoms of frozen shoulder. 

To determine if you have the condition, your doctor will carry out several tests to determine the root cause of your shoulder pain and immobility. These tests may include:

  • Medical history – your doctor will try to see if you had previous shoulder injuries and pre-existing conditions like diabetes
  • Physical exams – conducting a physical exam will help your doctor determine your shoulder’s mobility and range of motion
  • Blood tests – if you have any pre-existing conditions, your doctor may require you to go through blood work to see if it could be contributing to your shoulder pain
  • Arthrography – this is a type of imaging test that provides a clearer picture of your shoulder than a standard X-ray 
  • MRI – an MRI can help identify any damage to soft tissues in the shoulder, like a rotator cuff tear

How to Relieve Frozen Shoulder Pain

Frozen shoulder treatment focuses on managing the pain and restoring its full range of motion. Treatment usually involves physical therapy like yoga and other related procedures that involve mobility and flexibility exercises and adjustments.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is one of the main methods that can address various shoulder pains. Before you exercise, make sure you properly warm up to prepare your body. 

Start by performing simple stretching exercises for your shoulder to relieve some of the tension. Once you’ve been properly warmed up, perform these exercises below.

Pendulum stretch

  • Relax your shoulders
  • Slightly lean over and let your arms hang limply on your sides
  • Gently swing your arm in a circular motion up and down, then from side to side
  • Repeat on the other arm
  • Perform at least 2 sets of 10 reps 5 times a week 

Towel stretch

  • Hold a small towel behind your back and keep it in a horizontal position
  • Use your good arm to pull your arm with frozen shoulder upwards to stretch your arm
  • Perform 10 to 20 reps per day 

Crossbody stretch

  • Use your good arm to lift your affected arm by the elbow so that it’s across your chest
  • Grasp onto your upper arm with your other hand and exert mild pressure to stretch your shoulder
  • Hold your arm for 20 seconds, then release the tension
  • Repeat 2-3 times

 Armpit stretch

  • Position yourself so that you’re standing in front of a desk at about chest-level 
  • Use your good arm to lift your affected arm so it rests comfortably on top of the desk 
  • Slowly bend your knees to stretch and loosen up the muscles in your armpits
  • Return to your standing position before repeating the exercise
  • Perform 10 to 20 times 

Finger walk

  • Stand in front of a wall about half an arm’s length away
  • Reach out and touch the wall with your fingertips from your affected arm
  • Bend your elbows slightly and slowly walk your fingers up the wall like a spider
  • Keep going until you can raise your arm at a height you’re comfortable with
  • Walk your fingers up the wall until you’ve raised your arm at the level you can tolerate
  • Slowly lower your arm and repeat 10 to 20 times

Chiropractic Care

Undergoing chiropractic adjustments for your frozen shoulder can help restore its original range of motion and flexibility. For example, shoulder manipulation involves loosening the tightened tissue around your shoulder to restore its proper movement. This procedure also strengthens your shoulder to lessen the risk of reinjury.

TENS Therapy

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can also treat frozen shoulders. This battery-operated device applies electrodes on the affected area to send controlled and low-voltage shocks. This will then block various nerve impulses and reduce pain.

Cold Compress

Applying ice packs on your frozen shoulder is another simple way to treat the condition. Remember not to apply the cold compress directly on the skin of the affected area. Instead, you should wrap it in a towel before putting it on your shoulder. You should then be able to move your shoulder a bit easier since the cold compress will numb the area and lessen the pain.

Recovering from Frozen Shoulder

The time it’ll take for you to recover from a frozen shoulder will depend on how you respond to treatment. On top of that, you’ll also need to exercise more caution after you’ve been diagnosed with the condition for a faster recovery.

Be extra careful and refrain from any activity that could reinjure your shoulder. For example, performing sudden jerking movements or lifting heavy objects with your affected shoulder are some things you should avoid.

Can Frozen Shoulder Return?

Frozen shoulder rarely makes a recurrence once you’ve recovered from the condition. However, the risk could be higher if you have pre-existing conditions like diabetes. To be on the safe side, stick to your physical therapy routine to prevent experiencing future frozen shoulder pain symptoms.

Need more health tips and advice? Check out the LifeClinic blog.

Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience, and overall direction of the LifeClinic. As the creator of IMJT, Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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