The frozen shoulder is among the most complex shoulder problems. It is a painful and frustrating condition that can last for months if not cured properly. It’s no surprise that you’re looking into various treatment options to solve the problem.
One of the best ways to cure frozen shoulder is with physiotherapy but what techniques are going to be the best for your pain? Here we’ll answer that question while also giving you plenty more vital info. Let’s get started by looking at exactly what a frozen shoulder is.
Table of Contents
What is Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, refers to the stiffness and pain in the shoulder. Due to stiffness, the shoulder cannot move properly in any direction but only in specific directions. In short, frozen shoulder is a situation in which the shoulder loses its stability.
It happens when a shoulder capsule gets inflamed, and the fibrotic adhesions restrict the movement of the shoulder. This results in serious pain and later leads to stiffness.
Diagnosis of Frozen Shoulder
Identifying a frozen shoulder can be difficult if you have not encountered it before. Shoulder pain could be due to various reasons and a misdiagnosis will lead to a wrong treatment. Thus, it is important to identify and diagnose the condition via a health professional and not home treatments.
The first step to diagnosing a frozen shoulder is to see a physiotherapist. The physiotherapist will thoroughly check the condition and diagnose whether you have a frozen shoulder. If they diagnose a frozen shoulder, then they will treat it accordingly.
Besides that, you can look for the following symptoms to check if you have a frozen shoulder:
- No movement of the hand above shoulder height
- Unable to toss a ball
- Unable to reach behind the back
- Inability to tuck a shirt
- Unable to put on a seatbelt
- Cannot lie or sleep on the side of the body due to shoulder
Diagnosing a frozen shoulder is important as it is often confused with a torn rotator cuff and other shoulder injuries.
Causes of Frozen Shoulder
The most common cause of a frozen shoulder is decreased mobility. It often arises when you’ve had a surgery or injury that restricts you from moving your arm properly. It eventually causes inflammation around your shoulder joint. The tissue becomes tighter and shrinks, and leads to pain.
While it may occur in people of all ages, old people are more prone to it due to their restricted movement.
Stages and Treatment
The first question after diagnosing a frozen shoulder is to decide the on treatment. Although there are many techniques to treat a frozen shoulder, a physiotherapist will provide you with a customized plan to treat your pain.
Self-treatment may result in more harm than good in case of the wrong exercise. The treatment of frozen shoulder links with the stage of your frozen shoulder. There are different ways to treat it for different stages.
Freezing Stage – The main concern in the freezing stage is to get rid of that extreme pain by using pain relief medicines. Besides that, other preventions are recommended to stop the situation from getting worse.
Frozen Stage – In the frozen stage, exercises play their part. Performing recommended shoulder exercises is the best way to treat your shoulder in this phase. But be careful while performing exercises, as being aggressive or harsh will make the problem worse.
Thawing Stage – Physiotherapists improve movement during thawing stage as they observe improvement. This is the phase where the shoulder begins moving properly but this can unfortunately take a long time.
Physiotherapy for Frozen Shoulder
Physiotherapy is the treatment for a frozen shoulder. While performing the exercises, stretch it enough to create tension in your muscles, which should not cause pain. This treatment must be done in stages two and three of a frozen shoulder. Here we look at some exercises that will help you relieve pain and stiffness.
The pendulum is one of the most effective physiotherapy treatments for frozen shoulder. The method is simple, but make sure to consult your physiotherapist first.
Stand so that the arm on your non-injured shoulder is resting on a table or chair. Your body should be leaning, and your frozen shoulder should hang downwards. Rotate your arm in a small diameter and perform multiple revolutions. With time, increase the diameter of your arm.
Another exercise that may help improve the condition of your arm is the towel stretch. Hold the towel’s opposite sides behind your back with both hands. Slightly pull the towel upwards with the help of your good arm to put gentle pressure on your frozen arm.
Cross Body Stretch
Hold your frozen arm with the help of your good arm and stretch it in a crossway. Hold this stretch for around 15 to 20 seconds. Perform this exercise about 10 to 20 times a day. The more you do this exercise, the more mobility you should have in your shoulder.
The last one on our list of best physiotherapy exercises for frozen shoulder is the armpit stretch. Put both of your arms on something at your chest level. Slightly bend down your knees. This exercise will help in letting your shoulder move above shoulder level.
It’s important to note that these are just some of the exercises that you can do for a frozen shoulder. The right set of exercises for you will be suggested to you after a consultation with your physiotherapist. You can then work on these stretched in your physio session, as well as at home.
Physiotherapy plays a major part in all stages of a frozen shoulder, from the freezing phase to the thawing phase. Sadly the condition can often last up to three years, especially for those who don’t seek out treatment for their pain.
Physiotherapy reduces the duration of pain and stiffness and lead to a faster recovery. However, it is important to diagnose the condition properly first to ensure a suitable physiotherapy program for your shoulder.