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How to Treat Frozen Shoulder: A Step-by-Step Guide

back, pain, shoulder Pain

Are you dealing with the pain and stiffness of a frozen shoulder? If so, you’re not alone. This condition affects up to 5% of the population, causing aching and tightness in shoulder joints.

Fortunately, there are several treatments available that can help reduce the symptoms of a frozen shoulder. In this blog post, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to treat frozen shoulders at home.

Understand Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a common condition that causes pain and limited movement in the shoulder.

It typically affects people between the ages of 40 and 60 and is more common in women than men. Although it can affect both shoulders, it usually only affects one at a time.

The cause of frozen shoulder is unknown but is thought to be related to injury or inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

The main symptoms of a frozen shoulder are intense pain and stiffness in the affected area, making it difficult to move your arm normally. The pain may come on suddenly or gradually worsen over time.

Stiffness can limit your range of motion in all directions-forward, backward and side-to-side. You may also experience a grinding sensation when you try to move your arm.

Treatment for a frozen shoulder usually involves physical therapy exercises to help improve flexibility, strength and range of motion in the affected area.

Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen may also be prescribed to reduce swelling and pain. In some cases, steroid injections may be necessary if physical therapy does not provide sufficient relief from symptoms.

Surgery may also be considered for severe cases that do not respond to other treatments.

Frozen Shoulder pain

Take Painkillers

Painkillers can be an effective way to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with a frozen shoulder. Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium, to reduce pain and swelling.

Other medications may also be prescribed depending on your specific case. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking any type of medication, including painkillers, as they can cause side effects like stomach upset and liver damage if taken incorrectly.

Use Heat Therapy

Using heat therapy is an effective way to treat a frozen shoulder. The heat helps to reduce pain and stiffness while increasing flexibility in the joint capsule. Heat can be applied using a hot compress, or you can use a heated wrap specifically designed for shoulders. Applying heat for 20 minutes several times per day can help reduce inflammation and increase the range of motion in the affected area.

In addition to heat, stretches and exercises are recommended to maintain mobility and improve strength in the shoulder joint. Manual therapies such as massage and mobilization may also be helpful for relieving pain and restoring range of motion.

Resting the joint is also important for treating tendinitis, so it’s important to take breaks from any exercises that cause pain or discomfort. With proper treatment, a frozen shoulder can be relieved within 6-12 months.

Take Anti-Inflammatory Medication

Taking anti-inflammatory medications is a common and effective treatment for frozen shoulders. These drugs are intended to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the affected joint.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn), and Anaprox are usually prescribed. Pain control can also be achieved with these medications taken orally or by injection. These drugs work by blocking the action of enzymes that produce inflammation, ultimately reducing the pain associated with a frozen shoulder. It is important to follow your physician’s instructions carefully when taking any medication to ensure that it is taken correctly and safely.

Practice Gentle Stretches and Exercises

Gentle stretching and exercise are key parts of treating a frozen shoulder. This can help to improve mobility and reduce stiffness in the joint. To do this, you should start out with gentle, slow stretches and exercises. Start by doing some simple range-of-motion exercises such as arm circles, shoulder rolls, and pendulums. As you progress, add more challenging stretches such as towel pulls, or shoulder blade squeezes. You can also use resistance bands to increase the intensity of your stretching routine. With regular practice, these exercises can help to improve your range of motion in the shoulder joint and reduce stiffness over time.

Apply Ice to the Joints

Applying ice to the joints can be an effective way to reduce pain and inflammation caused by frozen shoulder. Ice helps to reduce swelling, decrease muscle spasms and pain, and improve range of motion. Applying ice soon after an injury or flare-up can help limit the severity of symptoms.

It is important to remember that cold therapy should not be used for more than 15 minutes at a time. To apply the ice, wrap an ice pack or frozen vegetables in a thin cloth and apply it directly to the affected area for up to 15 minutes at a time. Make sure not to leave it on too long as this could cause increased pain and tissue damage.

Try Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a great treatment option for frozen shoulder patients, also known as Adhesive Capsulitis. By using tiny needles to stimulate certain points in the body, acupuncture helps to reduce pain and improve the range of motion.

It can also be used in combination with other treatments, such as hot baths and stretching exercises, for maximum benefit. Acupuncture has been shown to help reduce VAS pain scores, restore shoulder function, and improve flexibility in the shoulder joint. If you are suffering from a frozen shoulder, it may be worth giving acupuncture a try!

Frozen Shoulder Physiotherapy Treatment

Participate in Physical Therapy

Participating in physical therapy is an important step for treating a frozen shoulder. Physical therapy helps to reduce pain and restore the normal range of motion lost due to scar tissue build-up, muscle tightness and joint stiffness.

Your physical therapist can guide you through several exercises, stretches, and treatments designed specifically for frozen shoulders. During your physical therapy sessions, your therapist may demonstrate the appropriate exercises for you, provide hands-on guidance as needed, and offer education about the condition.

Additionally, they may suggest modifications to activities or ways of performing them that put less strain on the affected joint. With regular practice of these exercises at home under the guidance of your physical therapist, you can gradually regain mobility in your shoulder joint while reducing pain and discomfort.

Massage the Shoulder Joints

Massaging the shoulder joints can be a great way to help relieve pain and discomfort caused by a frozen shoulder. Massage therapy is one of the most common treatments for this condition, as it helps to reduce inflammation, promote healing and improve joint mobility. Massage therapy can also help restore the shoulder joint’s range of motion and flexibility.

Before beginning massage therapy, it’s important to consult with your doctor or healthcare professional to ensure that the massage is appropriate for your condition. Massage therapists should also be aware of any particular medical conditions you may have that may affect how they treat you.

When performing massage on the shoulder joint, the therapist should begin by gently stretching the muscles surrounding the joint using their hands or a mechanical device such as an ultrasound machine. This will help loosen up tight muscles and stimulate blood flow to the area.

Once this has been accomplished, deeper tissue manipulation techniques such as deep tissue massage can be used to further relax and stretch out muscles around the joint.

The therapist should apply firm pressure while making circular motions with their hands around the affected area in order to release tension and knots in muscle fibres. Heat may also be applied during this stage if necessary to encourage relaxation.

Massage, shoulder, relaxing massage for Frozen Shoulder

Wear a Compression Sleeve or Wrap

Wearing a shoulder compression sleeve or wrap is a good way to provide support and stability to the shoulder, aiding in faster recovery from a frozen shoulder. Compression sleeves and wraps help reduce pain and inflammation by providing gentle compression, as well as helping to keep the shoulder warm, which can improve circulation and healing.

The best time to wear a compression sleeve or wrap is when you are engaging in physical activities like walking, running, or daily tasks that require the use of your arms. This will help you avoid any additional strain on the affected area. Additionally, if the level of discomfort increases at night due to lack of activity during sleep hours, a compression sleeve or wrap may be beneficial in reducing pain while sleeping.

Consider Surgery, if Necessary

If you are suffering from a frozen shoulder and other treatments have failed to relieve your pain and stiffness, surgery may be an option. Surgery is typically offered during the “Stage 2: Frozen” phase of frozen shoulder treatment.

Surgery aims to stretch and release the stiffened joint capsule, relieving the pain and restoring range of motion. Surgery can sometimes restore range of motion and is generally considered a safe procedure with a low risk of complications. Your doctor will discuss all risks and benefits with you before recommending surgery as an option.

Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions Carefully

It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully when it comes to treating a frozen shoulder. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and stiffness, restore range of motion, and prevent re-injury. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, medications, or injections to help manage your symptoms.

Depending on the severity of your condition, they may also suggest surgery. No matter what treatment plan you have been prescribed, it is important to follow it closely and ensure you understand all the instructions provided by your physician. This will ensure that you get the best possible outcome from your treatment plan and help you manage your condition in the long run.

Avoid Contact Sports or Heavy Lifting

Heavy lifting or contact sports can strain your shoulder, leading to a frozen shoulder. To avoid this, it is important to take preventative measures such as avoiding contact sports and heavy lifting.

Instead of engaging in these activities, focus on stretching the shoulder and performing low-impact exercises that help maintain flexibility and range of motion.

Additionally, use an ice pack intermittently for pain relief and rest your shoulder when needed. With proper care and prevention, you can avoid the pain of a frozen shoulder.

Make Lifestyle Changes for Long Term Relief

Making lifestyle changes can be an effective long-term treatment for a frozen shoulder. It is important to take steps to reduce inflammation, improve range of motion and maintain a healthy posture. Here are some tips for making lifestyle changes that may help with a frozen shoulder:

1. Maintain a Healthy Diet: Eating anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables can help reduce joint pain and stiffness associated with a frozen shoulder.

2. Get Regular Exercise: Gentle exercises that stretch the muscles around the joints can help reduce stiffness and improve the range of motion in the shoulders.

3. Manage Stress Levels: Stress can worsen symptoms of a frozen shoulder, so it is important to take steps to manage stress levels. This could include participating in calming activities such as yoga or meditation or simply taking time out to relax each day.

4. Sleep Well: Getting enough quality sleep is essential for good health and can also help reduce pain associated with a frozen shoulder by giving your body time to heal and repair itself overnight.

5. Practice Good Posture: Poor posture puts extra strain on the shoulders, which may exacerbate existing symptoms of frozen shoulder, so it is important to practice good posture while sitting, standing or sleeping throughout the night.


Frozen shoulder is a common condition that can lead to significant pain and disability. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the condition but often include pain relief through anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, or radiofrequency ablation.

Therapeutic exercises are also important in restoring joint movement and improving shoulder strength. In more severe cases, an arthroscopic capsular release may be recommended. Taking steps to recognize the symptoms early and seek medical help can help prevent long-term damage and disability associated with a frozen shoulder.