Revive Your Shoulder: Home Exercises for Frozen Shoulder Relief

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Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a painful condition that affects the shoulder joint, causing stiffness and limited range of motion. While medical intervention is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment, certain exercises can be performed at home to help alleviate symptoms and improve shoulder mobility. 

Frozen Shoulder Causes

While the exact cause of frozen shoulder is not fully understood, several factors can contribute to its development. Here are some common causes of frozen shoulder:

  1. Idiopathic
    In many cases, the cause of frozen shoulder is unknown, and it may occur spontaneously without any identifiable trigger. This is referred to as an idiopathic frozen shoulder.

  2.  Age and gender
    Frozen shoulder commonly affects individuals between the ages of 40 and 60. It is more prevalent in women compared to men, although the reasons for this gender disparity are not well understood.

  3. Previous shoulder injuries
    Individuals who have experienced shoulder trauma, such as fractures, dislocations, or rotator cuff tears, may be more susceptible to developing frozen shoulders. The immobility and inflammation associated with these injuries can lead to the formation of adhesions and scar tissue in the shoulder joint, contributing to the development of frozen shoulders.

  4. Prolonged immobilisation
    Any condition or circumstance that requires prolonged immobilisation of the shoulder joint can increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder. This includes situations such as post-surgical immobilisation, prolonged bed rest, or wearing a sling for an extended period.

  5. Systemic diseases and medical Conditions
    Certain medical conditions have been associated with an increased risk of developing frozen shoulders. These include:
  • Diabetes
    People with diabetes are more prone to developing frozen shoulders. The reason for this increased risk is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the effects of diabetes on the connective tissues and the body's inflammatory response.

  • Thyroid disorders
    Thyroid imbalances, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, have been linked to an increased risk of frozen shoulder. Hormonal imbalances associated with thyroid dysfunction may contribute to the development of the condition.

  • Cardiovascular diseases
    Conditions like heart disease and stroke have been associated with an increased risk of developing frozen shoulders. The exact mechanisms behind this association are not yet clear.

  • Autoimmune disorders
    Certain autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can contribute to the development of frozen shoulders. These conditions involve the body's immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissues, including the shoulder joint, leading to inflammation, joint damage, and eventually frozen shoulder.

It is important to note that while these factors may increase the risk of developing a frozen shoulder, not everyone with these conditions or experiences will necessarily develop the condition. The exact interplay of these factors and the development of frozen shoulders requires further research for a comprehensive understanding.

Frozen shoulder symptoms

Recognizing these symptoms is crucial for early diagnosis and appropriate management. Here are the common symptoms of frozen shoulder:

  1. Gradual onset of pain
    The development of frozen shoulder is often marked by a gradual onset of pain in the affected shoulder. The pain may start mild and gradually worsen over time. It is typically deep and aching in nature and may be more pronounced at night, affecting sleep quality.

  2. Shoulder stiffness
    As the condition progresses, stiffness in the shoulder joint becomes prominent. Initially, the stiffness may be mild, but it gradually increases, leading to significant limitations in shoulder mobility. The stiffness may be described as a feeling of tightness or a sense of the joint being "frozen."

  3. Loss of range of motion
    One of the hallmark symptoms of frozen shoulder is a progressive loss of range of motion in the shoulder joint. This limitation can affect various movements, including reaching overhead, behind the back, or across the body. Activities like getting dressed or combing hair may become challenging.

  4. Pain with movement
    As the condition advances, pain is often experienced during shoulder movements. Activities that involve lifting, reaching, or rotating the arm may exacerbate the pain. The pain is typically localised to the shoulder joint and may be sharp or stabbing in nature.

  5. Difficulty performing daily activities
    Due to pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion, individuals with frozen shoulders may find it challenging to carry out routine activities that involve shoulder movements. Tasks like putting on clothes, reaching for objects on high shelves, or driving may become significantly impaired.

  6. Night pain and disrupted sleep
    Many people with frozen shoulders experience increased pain and discomfort during the night, which can disrupt sleep patterns. Lying on the affected side or applying pressure to the shoulder may exacerbate the pain, making it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position.

The progression of the condition occurs in three stages: the freezing stage, frozen stage, and thawing stage. The freezing stage is characterised by the gradual onset of pain and stiffness. In the frozen stage, the stiffness is at its peak, and range of motion is severely limited. During the thawing stage, there is a gradual improvement in shoulder mobility and a reduction in pain. 

It's important to note that the symptoms of frozen shoulders can vary in intensity and duration from person to person. 


Frozen shoulder exercise at home

Exercises can play a crucial role in managing frozen shoulder pain and improving shoulder mobility. However, before starting any exercise regimen, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist to ensure they are suitable for your condition. Here are some exercises that can be done at home to help alleviate frozen shoulder symptoms:

  1. Pendulum exercise
    -Stand and lean forward, supporting yourself with your non-affected arm on a table or chair. 
    -Let your affected arm hang down and gently swing it back and forth, side to side.
    -Next, swing in circular motions. 
    -Perform 10 repetitions in each direction, twice a day.

  2. Towel stretch
    -Hold a towel with both hands behind your back. 
    -Use your unaffected arm to pull the towel upward, gently stretching the affected shoulder. 
    -Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds 
    -Repeat 3-5 times daily.

  3. Wand exercise
    -Hold a long bamboo stick or broomstick with both hands, palms facing downward. 
    -Slowly raise the wand overhead, then lower it behind your back.
    -Aiming to reach as far as possible. 
    -Perform 10 repetitions, twice a day.

  4. Wall climbing exercise
    -Stand facing a wall with your hands at shoulder height, fingertips touching the wall. 
    -Gradually walk your fingers up the wall, reaching as high as possible without causing pain. 
    -Slowly walk your fingers back down. 
    -Repeat 10 times, twice a day.

  5. Sleeper stretch
    -Lie on your unaffected side with your affected arm resting on a pillow in front of you. 
    -Gently push your affected arm upward with your other hand until you feel a stretch in the back of your shoulder. 
    -Hold for 15-30 seconds.
    -Repeat 3-5 times daily.

  6. Passive range-of-motion exercises
    -Utilise your non-affected arm or a pulley system to move the affected arm through its available range of motion. 
    -Perform these exercises gently to avoid any sharp or intense pain.

  7. Strengthening exercises
    Once pain and range of motion improve, gradually incorporate resistance exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles. Examples include bicep curls, shoulder presses, and lateral raises with light dumbbells or resistance bands.

Remember to start with gentle exercises and gradually increase the intensity and duration as tolerated. Avoid pushing through severe pain or discomfort, as it may worsen the condition. 

Be consistent with your exercise routine, and listen to your body's response. If you experience increased pain or any new symptoms during or after exercises, it is important to stop and consult with a healthcare professional.


Frozen shoulders can be a painful and debilitating condition, but with proper care and regular exercise, it is possible to improve the range of motion and reduce pain. If you suspect you have a frozen shoulder, consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

In addition to exercises, incorporating heat and cold therapy, pain management strategies, maintaining good posture, and regular stretching can also aid in the rehabilitation process of frozen shoulders. 

It is essential to follow the guidance and recommendations provided by your healthcare professional to ensure the exercises are appropriate for your specific condition.


Please note that the above recommendations are general care tips. Consult a healthcare professional in case of any uncertainty around wound treatment and healing.
Always see your doctor if a wound is deep, bleeding profusely or showing signs of infection. For diabetic patients especially, proper wound care holds the utmost importance. Do not hesitate to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor or your podiatrist, even when it comes to minor wounds and cuts – especially if they’re on your feet.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Although compiled with great care, it is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have or suspect a health problem, consult your doctor immediately. 

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