Shoulder > Treatments
Rest, Anti-Inflammatories, Physical Therapy
During the first, or "freezing" phase of frozen
shoulder, your physician may want you to focus on relieving
your pain rather than increasing your range of motion.
This involves rest, ice, medication, and in some cases,
immobilization of your shoulder. You will be asked to
refrain from using the affected shoulder as much as
possible. You should avoid putting strain on your shoulder,
raising your arm over your head, or lifting heavy objects.
Depending on the severity of your pain, your physician
also may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
Icing your shoulder for 20 to 30 minutes at a time,
three or four times a day, also can help relieve pain
and inflammation. Some patients are given corticosteroid
injections to ease pain.
Once your pain has decreased enough
to allow you to move your shoulder comfortably, you
usually can begin performing basic stretching exercises
aimed at increasing your shoulder’s range of motion.
Some of these include a pendulum-like motion, in which
you lean over with your affected arm hanging down and
your other arm extended and resting on a table to support
your body, and then make small circles with your affected
arm. The next step is to perform this exercise while
holding a light weight. Other exercises focus on flexing
your shoulder forward and back with gentle motions,
and some use apparatus such as a wand or pulley system.
All involve the unaffected arm "leading" the
affected arm so that the affected arm does not have
to push against resistance. As in all exercises, proceed
gradually. Do not pursue an aggressive exercise program
if you experience pain or stiffness.
FORMAL PHYSICAL THERAPY
A physical therapist may use heat or ultrasound to ease
the pain in your shoulder and allow you to exercise
more comfortably and efficiently. Your physician also
may suggest an injection of a long-lasting anesthetic
before you perform supervised stretching exercises.
Your physical therapist then takes you through a series
of passive movements aimed at regaining range of motion
in your shoulder.
It is not uncommon for sufferers of
frozen shoulder to experience residual symptoms for
years after the initial diagnosis. These generally include
mild pain and a small loss of range of motion in the
shoulder that usually does not affect your ability to
perform everyday functions.