3% of people will develop a frozen shoulder in their lifetime.
It can be persistent, have a long recovery, and often arises after lack of use due to a previous shoulder injury.
For both the manual therapist and patient, this can be frustrating. However, a frozen shoulder, often responds well to a proper combination of treatments and exercise.
As a manual therapist, you can prescribe at-home exercises to help speed up the recovery process. Instruct your patient to complete the following 3 exercises 10 times, 2-3 times every day. Make sure to explain why they should be doing them and give a thorough explanation as to how to do them correctly.
1. Passive Range of Motion of the Shoulder
Individuals with a frozen shoulder have very limited shoulder movement. Although you are likely passively moving their shoulder through the different directions in their manual treatment plan, it is important to have them do something similar at home. The more often they are moving the joint through the different ranges, the looser the joint will become and the faster it will “thaw” out the shoulder.
Instruct your patient to use a broomstick or cane at home. Have them anchor the hand of their frozen shoulder at one end and use the opposite arm to actively move the shoulder through all directions, including flexion, extension, external rotation, internal rotation, abduction, and adduction. If there is extreme pain, instruct your patient only to move their arm to the point below pain.
2. Active Range of Motion of the Shoulder
Active range of motion of the shoulder means the patient is actively moving their shoulder in the different directions. Similar to the passive range of motion exercise, it can help loosen the ligaments and connective tissues that are restricting movement. Instruct them to only move their arm as far as they can, without pain. If pain occurs, direct them to stop before the point of pain.
3. Shoulder Pendulum
The shoulder pendulum creates space in the shoulder capsule. Instruct your patient to place their non-affected arm on a table and bend slightly forward at the waist. Have them hang their affected arm down, limp, and move their arm in a wide circular motion. For more of a pull on the joint, have them hold a weight in their hand.