Woke up with a frozen shoulder? Here’s how to get rid of it

Rigidity, pain and immobility in shoulders is termed as frozen shoulder. These physiotherapy tips and exercise may help treat it.
frozen shoulder
If your shoulder seems stuck, try these methods for relief. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Shifa Khan Updated: 23 Oct 2023, 13:54 pm IST
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Has it ever happened to you that you went to bed feeling perfectly fine but woke up with a frozen shoulder the next day? The excruciating pain and inability to move your arms and lift something is an unpleasant experience. Well, some of it can be blamed on your sleeping posture but there are many foul things at play.

To know the causes of frozen shoulder and ways to treat it, Health Shots got in touch with Dr Ashwini Marathe, Head of Physiotherapy Operations at Phyt.Health (India’s first AI-assisted Digital Physiotherapy Platform).

Dr Marathe says, “Frozen Shoulder or Adhesive Capsulitis is a common ailment that affects the shoulder’s ball-and-socket joint. Its impact is quite severe and worsens if not treated in time. It usually hits those between the 40-60 age group and those suffering from diabetes, thyroid and cardiac issues. Women suffer more than men.”

What are the symptoms of a frozen shoulder?

The patients suffer from pain, rigidity and stiffness of the shoulder. The earlier symptoms include the inability to lift one’s arms above one’s head and reach across or behind. Simple arm movements suffer after being impacted. It does not affect any other joints throughout the body.

“Those suffering from frozen shoulders go through three stages. The first is painful freezing. The second is frozen or adhesive. The thawing stage comes next. The cause of this disabling disorder is unknown. Recovery happens in most cases, though some limitations might remain in some cases.” says Dr Marathe

How can you treat a frozen shoulder?

According to Dr Marathe, “There are varied treatments available like physical therapy and medicinal treatments like intra-articular corticosteroid injections, arthroscopic capsular release and surgery. Physicians, however, stick to recommending medications to treat the illness. When the condition does not improve and leads to disability after 3-6 months, a need for surgery is required.”
However, choosing traditional methods helps most of the time. Improvements in a frozen shoulder condition are seen just with the help of correct exercises and physiotherapy.

Most medical professionals prefer to suggest physiotherapy to relieve the patient of a frozen shoulder. Some stretching exercises may also help in lessening the tightness in the affected shoulder.

If you’re dealing with a frozen shoulder, these exercises will ease the pain:

1. Pendulum Exercise

* Bend near the waist and let the arm hang away from the body in a relaxed way.
* Circularly move your body while letting the arm move from the joint near the shoulder.
* Keep making the small motions while the shoulder is relaxed. Keep doing this for 2-3 minutes.

2. Tabletop Arm Slides

* Take a seat on a chair beside a tabletop. Lift and place the affected arm with the unaffected one. Rest the hand and forearm on the table.
* Bend forward from the waist using the body weight. Let the arm and hand slide ahead.
*Stay in this position for 5-10 seconds. Using the same motion, slide back to the upright position.

3. Wall Slide

* Stand and face the wall. Keep both the palms against the wall.
* Move the hands up the wall. The entire hands and arms should move upwards too.
* Keep doing this stretch for 15-20 seconds.


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Use the walls of your house to treat a frozen shoulder. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Cane Exercise

* Recline on your back. Clutch anything that resembles a cane and hold it near your hips. Make sure the elbows are straight. The palms must face down.
* With the unaffected arm, lift the cane over your head. Keep doing this till you notice the affected arm getting stretched. Keep doing this for a few minutes daily.

5. Shoulder Stretch

* Grasp the affected shoulder’s elbow with the other hand. Pull the elbow of the affected shoulder across the chest on the opposite side.
* Keep doing it for a few minutes daily.

tennis elbow

Stretch that elbow to the other side to ease the shoulder pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Towel Stretch

* Take the towel in the unaffected hand and let it fall behind your back.
* Move the affected arm slowly behind the back and grip the towel.
* Pull the towel gently upwards. This movement helps the affected arm go up and stretch. Keep doing this for a few minutes daily.

With proper guidance, those suffering from frozen shoulders will be able to live their lives with little or no pain. They do not have to carry the frozen weight on their shoulders.

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About the Author

An aesthete and a skincare junkie, Shifa spends most of her time cooking delish food while wearing a sheet mask. At HealthShots, she creates high-octane content that can leave you all a little intrigued! ...Read More

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