Frozen shoulder exercises

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Frozen shoulder (also called adhesive capsulitis) results from shrinking and scarring of the shoulder capsule.

It causes significant shoulder pain and loss of movement. The pain can last from weeks to many months. Loss of movement can last months to years.

Frozen shoulder can occur as a result of many situations, including shoulder injury, diabetes, thyroid problems, and heart or lung conditions.

Pain control is required if the pain interferes with sleep or daily activities. The easiest method is applying ice packs to the shoulder for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Higher levels of pain may require cortisone shots or other medication.

Avoidance of shoulder motions or positions that are painful is important. Activities that might aggravate the pain include reaching overhead, reaching into the back seat of a car, trying to open a heavy door, and driving a car.

Exercises are useful in the rehabilitation of frozen shoulder.

Note: Do these only after checking with your doctor or physical therapist.

Wand exercises

oFlexion: Stand upright and hold a stick in both hands, palms down. Stretch your arms by lifting them over your head, keeping your elbows straight. Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

oExtension: Stand upright and hold a stick in both hands behind your back. Move the stick away from your back. Hold the end position for 5 seconds. Relax and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

oExternal rotation: Lie on your back and hold a stick in both hands, palms up. Your upper arms should be resting on the floor, your elbows at your sides and bent 90°. Using your good arm, push your injured arm out away from your body while keeping the elbow of the injured arm at your side. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

oInternal rotation: Stand upright holding a stick with both hands behind your back. Place the hand on your uninjured side behind your head grasping the stick, and the hand on your injured side behind your back at your waist. Move the stick up and down your back by bending your elbows. Hold the bent position for 5 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

oShoulder abduction and adduction: Stand upright and hold a stick with both hands, palms down. Rest the stick against the front of your thighs. While keeping your elbows straight, use your good arm to push your injured arm out to the side and up as high as possible. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

Scapular range of motion: Stand and shrug your shoulders up and hold for 5 seconds. Then squeeze your shoulder blades back and together and hold 5 seconds. Next, pull your shoulder blades downward as if putting them in your back pocket. Relax. Repeat this sequence 10 times.

Pectoralis stretch: Stand in a doorway or corner with both arms on the wall slightly above your head. Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders. Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Biceps stretch: Stand facing a wall (about 6 inches away from the wall). Raise your arm out to your side and place the thumb side of your hand against the wall (palm down). Keep your elbow straight. Rotate your body in the opposite direction of the raised arm until you feel a stretch in your biceps. Hold 15 seconds, repeat 3 times

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