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What is Frozen Shoulder? How can it be avoided?

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

Frozen shoulder, which is also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that leads to pain and stiffness of the shoulder. It often affects women of age 40-60.

Before learning more about frozen shoulder, let us first learn more about the shoulder itself. Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. It is made up of three bones which are your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle). The head of the upper arm bone fits into a shallow socket in your shoulder blade. Surrounding the joint is a strong connective tissue which is known as shoulder capsule. To help your shoulder move more easily, synovial fluid lubricates the shoulder capsule and the joint.

Frozen shoulder is a common condition in which the articular shoulder capsule swells and stiffens, restricting its mobility. It typically affects only one shoulder, but one in five cases affect both. Frozen shoulder is thought to cause the formation of scar tissue in the shoulder, which makes the shoulder joint's capsule thicken and tighten, leaving less room for movement. Therefore, movement may be stiff and even painful.

Risk factors for frozen shoulder includes:

  • Age – 40-60 years of age.

  • Gender - 70% of people with frozen shoulder are women.

  • Recent surgery or arm fracture - immobility of recovery may cause the shoulder capsule to stiffen.

  • Diabetes - two to four times more likely to develop frozen shoulder for unknown reasons; symptoms may be more severe.

  • Having suffered a stroke.

  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease).

  • Parkinson's disease.

  • Accident or trauma on your upper back or shoulder

Here are some home exercises to prevent or to improve frozen shoulder.

Crossover arm stretch

Gently pull one arm across your chest just below your chin as far as possible without causing pain. Hold for 30 seconds. Relax and repeat.

Pendulum Exercise

Lean over a table while standing up.  Lean your good arm on the table to stabilize yourself.  Let your frozen shoulder hang with gravity.  Perform rotations, clockwise and counter-clockwise.  Then swing the shoulder forward and backward and side-to-side.  Do 20 repetitions in each direction

Towel Stretch

Hold one end of a three-foot-long towel behind your back and grab the opposite end with your other hand. Hold the towel in a horizontal position. Use your good arm to pull the affected arm upward to stretch it. You can also do an advanced version of this exercise with the towel draped over your good shoulder. Hold the bottom of the towel with the affected arm and pull it toward the lower back with the unaffected arm. Do this 10 to 20 times a day.

Finger Wall Crawl

Face a 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 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.

We hope that this article will be beneficial to you. If it did, do share it out to your friends and family.


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