Treating Frozen Shoulder: Preparing for Your Exercises

Doing special exercises is the first way to treat frozen shoulder. You may see a physical therapist who can help you learn to do them. If these exercises don’t help, you may need further medical treatment.

Physical therapy

Your healthcare provider may refer you to physical therapy. This hands-on care helps you learn how to do stretching exercises at home. A physical therapist may also work on restoring your shoulder flexibility. To do this, he or she may gently stretch and move your frozen shoulder.

Shoulder stretches

Man leaning over swinging arm in circle doing shoulder exercise.

Doing stretches is often the best way to treat frozen shoulder. Stretching each day can help lessen the pain and restore shoulder flexibility. But it often takes a significant amount of time before you notice results. Try to be patient.

To warm up, do the “pendulum.” While standing, let the hand on your frozen side dangle freely as you hold the back of a chair or a table top with your other hand. Slowly make circles and side-to-side motions with the frozen arm.

Tips for shoulder stretches

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines or steroid injections can help relieve pain. This may help you do your stretches. Your healthcare provider can tell you more.

  • Mild and moist heat can help loosen your shoulder. Try taking a warm shower or bath just before you stretch.

  • A cold or ice pack can limit pain and swelling. Try icing your shoulder for a few minutes after you do your stretches.