Adhesive capsulitis (also known as frozen shoulder) is a condition in which the shoulder is stiff, painful, and has limited motion in all directions due to inflammation of the shoulder capsule. The connective tissue surrounding the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder is called the shoulder capsule. While the causes of frozen shoulder are yet unclear, most doctors recommend a therapy of painkillers and shoulder exercises to reduce the inflammation and pain. Mobility and strengthening exercises help to ease pain and improve the movement and help in functional activities.
Here a simple exercise one can do to ease the condition. Remember to gently stretch and warm up prior to doing these exercises.
- Pendulum stretch: The pendulum stretch is the first exercise one should do. To do it, relax your shoulders, stand and lean over slightly, and allow the affected arm to hang down. Make sure the arm is straight and a gentle pull is felt at the shoulder. Slowly swing the arm in a small circle — about a foot in diameter. Start by performing 10 revolutions in each direction, once a day. As your symptoms improve, increase the diameter of your swing. Care should be taken to never force the joint. Slowly include lightweights in your routine once the conditions improve.
- Towel stretch: Take a three-foot-long towel and hold one end of it behind your back and grab the opposite end with your other hand. Holding the towel in a horizontal position, use your good arm to pull the affected arm upward to stretch it. Repeat the exercise by holding the bottom of the towel with the affected arm and pulling it toward the lower back with the unaffected arm. Do this 10 to 20 times a day.
- Finger walk: Stand at three-quarters of an arm's length away from a wall. Use the fingertips of your affected arm to touch the wall at waist level. With your elbow slightly bent, slowly walk your fingers up the wall until you've raised your arm as far as you comfortably can. Slowly lower the arm and repeat. Perform this exercise 10 to 20 times a day.
- Cross-body reach: Use your good arm to lift your affected arm at the elbow, and bring it up and across your body, exerting gentle pressure to stretch the shoulder. Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Do this 10 to 20 times per day.
- Outward rotation: These exercises and other rotator cuffs–strengthening exercises should only be undertaken once your range of motion improves. To do an outward rotation, hold a rubber exercise band like the Vissco ACTIVEBAND between your hands with your elbows at a 90-degree angle close to your sides. Rotate the lower part of the affected arm outward two or three inches and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 to 15 times, once a day.
- Inward rotation: Stand next to a closed door, and hook one end of a rubber exercise band ACTIVEBAND around the doorknob. Hold the other end with the hand of the affected arm, holding your elbow at a 90-degree angle. Pull the band toward your body two or three inches and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 to 15 times, once a day.