Role of exercise therapy in case of frozen shoulder

What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder (also called adhesive capsulitis) is a common disorder of shoulder joint that causes pain stiffness and loss of range of motion in the shoulder joint. This causes serious disability of shoulder joint if it left untreated. It affects mainly people aged between 40 to 60 years though women more affected than men.

Stretching exercises for frozen shoulder

Who gets frozen shoulder?  

The risk of frozen shoulder increased when

  • you don’t receive exercise therapy after tendinitis or an injury
  •  When you wear a sling for more than a few days without intermittent stretching
  • About 10% people with rotator cuff disorders develop frozen shoulder.
  •  Enforced immobility resulting from stroke, heart conditions, or surgery may also result in frozen shoulder.
  • Other conditions that raise the risk of frozen shoulder are thyroid disorder, Parkinson’s disease.

What to do about a frozen shoulder:  

The treatment for a frozen shoulder is focused on relieving pain and restoring the shoulder normal range of motion. An ice pack or bag applied to the shoulder for 10-15 minutes several times in a day can also help with pain. Later you can apply moist heat or heat pack on shoulder for relieving pain and stiffness.

The cornerstone of treatment is physical therapy, concentrating first on exercise that stretch the joint capsule, and later on strengthening exercise.

Stretching exercises for frozen shoulder:

Stretching exercise help a patient gently and progressively having a moving shoulder joint. This program is safe for all kind of patient of frozen shoulder. Although month of this specific exercise are required. Before beginning this exercise you should consult your doctor first.

Always warm up your shoulder before performing your exercises. The best way to do that is to take a warm shower or bath for 10 to 15 minutes. You can also use a moist heating pad or damp towel heated in the microwave, but it may not be as effective

In performing the following exercises, stretch to the point of tension but not pain.

Pendulum stretch:

Perform this exercise first. Relax your shoulders.

  • Stand and lean over slightly, allowing your affected arm to hang down.
  • Swing the arm in a small circle — about a foot in diameter.
  • Perform 10 revolutions in each direction, once a day.

As your symptoms improve, increase the diameter of your swing, but never force it. When you’re ready for more, increase the stretch by holding a light weight (three to five pounds) in the swinging arm.

Stretching exercises for frozen shoulder

Towel stretch:

  • Grasps a towel with your both hand, affected arm below.
  • Gradually lift the towel by the help of sound arm.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat it for 10 times, perform this exercise 3 times in a day.
Stretching exercises for frozen shoulder

Finger walk:

  • Face wall three-quarters of an arm’s length away.
  • Reach out and touch the wall at waist level with the fingertips of the affected arm.
  • With your elbow slightly bent, slowly walk your fingers up the wall, spider-like, until you’ve raised your arm to shoulder level, or as far as you comfortably can.
  • Your fingers should be doing the work, not your shoulder muscles.
  • Slowly lower the arm (with the help of the good arm, if necessary) and repeat.
  •  Perform this exercise 10 to 20 times a day.
Stretching exercises for frozen shoulder

Cross-body arm stretch:

  • Sit or stand. Use your good arm to lift your affected arm at the elbow, and bring it up and across your body, exerting gentle pressure to stretch the shoulder.
  • Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Do this 10 to 20 times per day.

Armpit stretch:

  • Using your good arm, lift the affected arm onto a shelf about breast-high.
  • Gently bend your knees, opening up the armpit.
  • Deepen your knee bend slightly, gently stretching the armpit, and then straighten.
  • With each knee bend, stretch a little further, but don’t force it.
  •  Do this 10 to 20 times each day.
Stretching exercises for frozen shoulder

Starting to strengthen:

After your range of motion improves, you can add rotator cuff–strengthening exercises. Be sure to warm up your shoulder and do your stretching exercises before you perform strengthening exercises.

Outward rotation:

  • Hold a rubber exercise band between your hands with your elbows at a 90-degree angle close to your sides.
  • Place a fold of small towel between your elbow and body as support.
  • Rotate the lower part of the affected arm outward two or three inches and hold for five seconds.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times, once a day.
Stretching exercises for frozen shoulder

Inward rotation:

  • Stand next to a closed door, and hook one end of a rubber exercise band around the doorknob.
  •  Grasp the other end with the hand of the affected arm, holding the elbow at a 90-degree angle.
  • Pull the band toward your body two or three inches and hold for five seconds.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times, once a day.
Stretching exercises for frozen shoulder

Exercise tips:

If you feel any pain or discomfort during this exercise, then stop the exercise and try it later. On that time you use only ice pack on your shoulder.

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