Frozen shoulder is a condition that restricts normal range of motion of your shoulder. Scar tissues are developed when the tissues in your shoulder joint become tighter. Because of this, your shoulder joint does not have enough space to rotate properly. Shoulder pain specialists claim that the most common symptoms of a frozen shoulder are pain, swelling and stiffness. In addition to that, people between the ages of 40 and 60 are more prone to experiencing this type of problem.
According to shoulder pain doctors, regular exercises and stretching might help with relieving pain caused by a frozen shoulder. Furthermore, regular exercise and stretching can improve range of motion. However, you have to keep in mind that it takes some time and persistence to experience results of the practices. Below you can find the most effective exercises that can help you address a frozen shoulder issue.
Before you start making use of the tips, you need to know that frozen shoulder is generally categorized into three stages, which are as follows:
- Freezing: this is a condition when you do not experience shoulder pain at rest. But you will notice severe shoulder pain at extremes of motion. This type of shoulder pain can last between 2 to 9 months
- Frozen: this is a condition when you do not experience any pain at rest but notice a dramatic loss of shoulder mobility with pain at the end of ranges of motion. It normally lasts between 4 to 12 months
- Thawing: during this condition, you will experience a gradual return of range of motion and it can last between 5 to 26 months
In order to make your exercising process less painful, you can make use of pain relievers before starting exercises. In some cases, ice or heat can also be used for pain relief purposes.
1. Behind the back stretch
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and put your affected arm behind your back. The next step is using your other hand to push the palm of your affected arm up toward the opposite shoulder. It is advised to hold the stretch for about 5 second and stop when you experience pain. This stretch needs to be repeated two or three times per day.
2. Abduction stretch
This type of stretch involves moving your arm away from the midline of your body and it should be performed in the following way. Take a seat next to a table, rest your affected arm and elbow on the surface. Then, you should slide your arm away from the body and stop the process when you experience pain. You should repeat this exercise three times a day.
3. External rotation door stretch
When it comes to external rotation door stretch, you should stand in a door frame with the elbow of your affected arm bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure you rest your wrist and palm against the door frame. Then, you should gently turn your body away from the door frame while keeping your forearm in place. It is advised to stop the stretch as soon as you start feeling pain. Repeat this stretching exercise two to three times a day.
4. Pendulum exercise
During this stretching exercise, you are required to use passive range of motion. It means that you will have to manipulate your shoulder and arm with making use of the muscles in your affected shoulder. The first step that needs to be done is sitting next to a table with your affected arm at your side and another arm placed on the table. Then, you should lean forward from your waist. It is advised to move your affected arm in small circles by using your body so you keep your shoulder relaxed. The exercise needs to be repeated 2 times a day with a duration of 1 minute at a time
All the aforementioned exercises are effective for people who are on the first stage of frozen shoulder. When you move to a second phase with less pain, it is recommended to increase the stretch repetitions and times. You can also add a small weight to your affected arm.
5. Wall climb stretch
The first thing that needs to be done is to stand in front of the wall with your affected arm against the wall. The next step is sliding your arm up the well until you start experiencing pain. You should move your body closer to the wall in order to be able to stretch higher up the wall. It is advised to hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds and repeat this exercise 10 times.
6. Adduction exercise
Adduction is the opposite of abduction. It involves moving your arm toward your body. In order to do this exercise, you have to tie an exercise band onto the doorknob and hold the other end of the band in the hand of your affected arm. The next step is standing away from where the band is anchored in order for the band to be taut when your arm is outstretched. Finally, you have to move your arm toward the body and then away. Do not make use of this exercise if you experience increased pain.
7. Forward flexion
During this exercise you will have to use passive range of motion by gently pulling your affected arm to stretch it. The first thing that needs to be done is to lie on your back and bend your affected arm across the body to lift the affected arm up toward the ceiling. It is advised to hold this position for 15 seconds and increase the hold time as you notice that your arm is becoming stronger.
You have to keep in mind that patience and persistence are the key during the treatment process. According to recent studies, people who experience frozen shoulders at stages 2 and 3 can benefit from steroid injections and intense physical therapy. Thus, it is highly important to make use of the aforementioned stretching and strengthening exercises. In severe cases of frozen shoulders, the whole treatment process can take up to 3 years.
Sometimes, shoulder pain specialists might combine physical therapy and a home-based exercise program with other conservative treatment, including:
- Corticosteroid injection at the site
- NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Hyaluronan injection at the site
However, before exercising or making use of any injections it is extremely important to consult your shoulder pain specialist first. He/.she will be able to design a program specifically for you, your level of pain and the stage of your frozen shoulder.
Exercising, routing stretching and physical therapy are the most effective treatment methods for reducing pain in your shoulder and increasing its range of motions. As was mentioned above, your specialist might advise you to combine exercising programs with NSAIDs and hyaluronan, corticosteroid or hydrodilation injections.
In the early stages of exercising and stretching, it is useful to have professional guidance. In this case, you eliminate the chance of hurting your shoulder. There are numerous exercises and it is essential to know how to do them correctly in order to achieve the best results. It might be also the case that some exercises will not work for you, so your shoulder pain specialist will have to adjust your treatment program.
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