Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. Research says 3% of the world population develops frozen shoulders in their lifetime. If you are one of those three percent, this page will help you with tips and resources to better deal with frozen shoulders.
Before getting deep into remedies, lets first explore some basics about frozen shoulder and this will help you to understand the remedies better.
Quick Facts on Frozen Shoulder
Frozen shoulder is another term for Adhesive Capsulitis, a condition that causes restricted motion in the shoulder joint.
With frozen shoulder, the shoulder joint becomes stiff and scarred. The shoulder joint usually allows more motion than any other joint in the body. But when someone develops a frozen shoulder, they form bands of scar tissue called adhesions. These adhesions make the shoulder stiff, and moving it becomes very painful.
Here are some of the symptoms associated with frozen shoulder:
– A dull, aching pain in the shoulder
– Limited shoulder movement
– Activities such as brushing hair, putting on shirts/bras become difficult
– Sleeping on the affected shoulder is painful
When diagnosing frozen shoulder, your doctor will look for restricted movement. There are other shoulder conditions can cause difficulty with movement of the shoulder, like a torn rotator cuff, so it’s very important to find a doctor familiar with this condition for a proper diagnosis. We will find more details later in this post.
95 percent of people with frozen shoulder are completely cured. Full recovery may take several months, and there are several things that you can do to help. We will explore more on this below.
Who are at the Risk of Developing Frozen Shoulder?
There are cases of frozen shoulder that have no reasons whatsoever. In fact, more commonly, this is the case. Until researchers figure out what triggers frozen shoulder, it can be hard to find out why it happens. Meanwhile we can definitely follow healthy lifestyle to increase our immunity and self-healing capacity.
However, there are several factors that put you at risk for developing frozen shoulder. This next set of tips will discuss some of these risk factors.
Trauma or Surgery
People who have had a shoulder injury, or surgery on the shoulder are at risk of developing a frozen shoulder joint. When injury or surgery is followed by prolonged immobility, it can also put them at risk of developing a frozen shoulder.
People with diabetes are at risk for developing a frozen shoulder. In fact, frozen shoulder affects 10-20 percent of diabetes patients.
Old Age and Gender
People between the ages of 40 to 60 years old have a higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. It is also twice as common for women to develop it as it is for men.
Problems with Nearby Joints
If you have problems with nearby joints, you could be at risk for frozen shoulders. For example, arthritis in the AC joint or the neck can put you at risk.
As mentioned earlier, keeping a sore shoulder immobile can put you at high risk for frozen shoulder. Some conditions that could cause this include stroke, immobilizing in a sling, or a brain or spinal injury.
Heart or Lung Problems
Sometimes heart disease or cardiac surgery leads to frozen shoulder. Be sure and talk to your doctor about these important risk factors.
Disease conditions to put you at risk
Other risk factors for frozen shoulder include:
– Thyroid problems
– High cholesterol
– Parkinsons disease
3 stages of frozen shoulder
There are 3 stages of frozen shoulders. This next set of tips will go over these stages.
The first stage is the “freezing” stage. This may last anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months, and the onset is slow and painful. As the pain worsens, the shoulder loses motion.
The second stage is the “frozen” stage. During this stage, the pain usually gets better but the stiffness worsens. This can last between 4-9 months.
The third stage is the “thawing” stage. This is where the shoulder motion slowly returns to normal. This generally lasts 5-26 months. This thawing stage is gradual can be quite slow. But with stretches and motion, it will steadily improve.
Home Remedies to Treat Frozen Shoulder
If all home remedies and exercises fails, a surgeon may perform what’s called a manipulation. A manipulation is done with the patient sedated, and the doctor moves the arm to break up adhesions caused by frozen shoulder. There are no incisions made during the procedure.
This next set of tips will discuss some of the treatment options that may help with your frozen shoulder.
Moist heat application
Moist heat has been found very effective for frozen shoulder pain. Just take a heat pad and put a moist towel under it, and apply both to your shoulder.
Ice cold application
Ice can help with frozen shoulder pain as well. To be the most effective, put your ice on for 10 minutes on your shoulder, and 10 minutes off. You can also alternate ice and moist heat.
Extra pillows for better sleep
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try using an extra pillow. Put the pillow under your affected shoulder, and sleep on your back or side.
Massage and trigger point therapy
Massage has helped many people with frozen shoulder. The muscles surrounding your frozen shoulder can become sore and tired. Massage can help alleviate these sore muscles.
Trigger point therapy is a type of specialized self massage that weeds out and removes painful muscular contractions. It works by applying pressure to the contractions, either with your fingers or massage tools.
Yoga is for straightening out your whole body, and it can really help with frozen shoulder. If you want to try yoga, start out slow and easy. Yoga and meditation can de-stress you. If it winds up causing you more pain, yoga probably isn’t for you.
There are some good recommendations in Ayurveda for frozen shoulder, consult an expert before treating yourself. Below is set of good suggestions we found on YouTube from Acharya Balakrishna.
Guided physical therapy
Physical therapy has also helped with the pain of frozen shoulder. If you think this would help, ask your doctor to give you a referral for a good physical therapist.
Guided anti-inflammatories for quick relief
Although anti-inflammatory medications haven’t helped change the course of a frozen shoulder, they can give substantial relief from the painful symptoms.
Cortisone injections for pain relief
Your doctor may suggest one or more cortisone injections. These injections can really help to decrease pain, and in also let you stretch more. This is very important, because it’s usually only effective when used together with physical therapy.
Best Exercises to Treat Frozen Shoulder
This next set of tips will give you some great stretches and exercises that you can do to help relieve and treat your frozen shoulder.
This exercise you can do while standing or sitting. Hold a 5-to 10-pound weight in your hand (a gallon of water or milk weighs 8 pounds) and keep your arm vertical and close to your body. Swing your arm back and forth or in a small diameter circle.
For this exercise, put your arm onto a shelf or a dresser about breast high. Gently bend your knees, and open your arm pit. Try to push the arm up a little farther with each stretch.
Stretch the towel
For this exercise, take a bath towel and hold it with both hands at a 45 degree angle. Use your good arm to pull the towel toward your lower back. You can repeat this with your towel in a horizontal position.
Walking with the fingers
To do this exercise, face a wall about 18 inches away. Using your fingers instead of your shoulder muscles, raise your arm up to shoulder level. Repeat this 5-10 times.
Rubber band pull
Grab a rubber band for these next few exercises. For this one, hold your elbows at 90 degrees, close to your sides. Grab the rubber band with both hands, and turn your forearms outward only two or three inches, holding for five seconds. Do this 5-10 times.
Rubber band push
For this one, arms the same way as the previous exercise. Hook your rubber band onto a door handle and hold it with one hand. Turn your forearm inward two or three inches (like a door), and hold it for five seconds. Do this 3-5 times.
Rubber band lift
Here’s another fun exercise you can do with a rubber band. Bend your elbow again, and place the rubber band on a door like before. Lift your arm up four or five inches away from the body (like lifting weights), holding for five seconds. Repeat this 3-5 times.
Shrug up and down
You can do this exercise while watching TV or sitting at a traffic light. Simply shrug your affected shoulder up and down slowly 5-10 times a day.
This is an exercise that you’ve probably done as a kid, but it can help with your frozen shoulder. Simply hold your arm out, and make circles with it. Take turns making small and large circles.
It’s a bit unconventional, but some people find that leg stretches can really help with frozen shoulder. For this exercise, lay down on your back in front of a doorway. Put one leg up the wall and one leg out flat, with you arms resting at your side. This pose is good for stretching the hamstrings of one leg and the hip flexors of the other. Hold it for 2-5 minutes.
Consulting an expert doctor – Do’s and Dont’s
Finding and talking to a doctor for frozen shoulder can be difficult. It’s important that your doctor is a good listener, especially on the first visit. Make sure you tell her everything that’s going on with your shoulder. If you’re worried about remembering, make a list and take it with you.
This next set of tips will help you to find a great one, and what to expect from her when you do.
What should you ask the doctor?
Here are some questions that you should ask your doctor
- What stage is my frozen shoulder in?
- What can I do to help?
- When can I expect improvement?
- What should I not do?
How will a doctor diagnose your conditions?
Here are some questions that your doctor should/will ask
- How did your shoulder pain start?
- Where is the pain?
- Has the pain spread?
- Did you injure yourself?
- Have you overused your arm?
- What are your other symptoms?
Your doctor should do a thorough examination of your shoulder. During this exam, she’ll check for swelling and muscle wasting. Your doctor will also examine your neck. She’ll do this to see whether your pain could be coming partly from your neck instead of your shoulder.
A good doctor will also check your movement in your shoulder. It may be a bit uncomfortable, but it’s important that your doctor knows your range of motion.
Blood tests and Scanning
There are some blood tests that your doctor may run. These can help the doctor look for other medical reasons that may be causing your shoulder pain. She may also want to check your blood to see if you might have diabetes or arthritis.
X-ray pictures can sometimes be useful in diagnosing shoulder pain problems. It can show things like arthritis or spondylosis in the joints. It can also show calcium in the muscles or arthritis in the shoulder joint.
Your doctor may have an ultrasound done on your shoulder. This scan is an excellent way to examine the muscles and tendons around your shoulder, and it will allow your doctor to find any inflamed or torn muscles.
MRI’s (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) are complex and expensive, but they can provide your doctor with detailed picture of the of your shoulder joint and its muscles. MRI’s help doctors correctly diagnose you.
Conclusions – Frozen shoulder remedies
A common mistake of people with frozen shoulder is that they keep it still. This is not always the best thing to do. Gentle movement will help to keep the blood flowing to your shoulder.
If you don’t have frozen shoulder but are worried about risk factors, the best way to prevent it is by doing daily stretches. Like every health condition or ailment, new research and studies are being done every day to better help you cope with frozen shoulder. So keep yourself informed and get well!