It is estimated that between two and five percent of the U.S. population suffer from frozen shoulder (also known as adhesive capsulitis) at some point. The pain, discomfort and limited motion that come with a frozen shoulder can be frustrating. If left untreated, this condition can get worse and result in disability. This is why it is important to get the appropriate treatment. Fortunately, most stiff shoulders can be managed through non-surgical treatments. 

Here is what to know about the condition, how to relieve pain and restore your shoulder’s normal range of motion.

Relieving a Frozen Shoulder to Increase Range of Motion 


The exact cause of frozen shoulder is still unknown. However, certain groups of people are more likely to develop the condition. Common risk factors for the disorder are:

  • Gender: Women make up 70 percent of people with this condition.
  • Age: People over 40 years old are more likely to be affected.
  • Recent trauma: Injury, surgery and arm fractures can cause a stiff shoulder.
  • Diabetes: The condition affects 10 to 20 percent of people with diabetes. 

Once a clinician has conducted a physical exam, they may recommend several options to help with the pain and improve shoulder mobility. Below are a few ways to release a stiff shoulder. 


This is the most common and main part of treatment for a stiff shoulder. The treatment program will typically involve regular stretching and strengthening exercises to restore flexibility and mobility without straining the shoulder. Some gentle range of motion exercises you should do include the pendulum stretch, towel stretch, finger walk, cross-body reach and armpit stretch. These exercises should be done under the supervision of a qualified physiotherapist to reduce the risk of exceeding your limits and causing further injury. You can also speak to your doctor about other options. 


In addition to physiotherapy exercises, your doctor can recommend over-the-counter medication to help you get relief. Anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen sodium, ibuprofen and aspirin will reduce inflammation while prescription painkillers like codeine can reduce pain. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may also be given a steroid injection on the shoulder joint. 


You do not have to undergo surgery when you have a stiff shoulder. Cold compression packs can go a long way in helping to reduce pain and swelling, making it easier for you to do the required exercises. Simply place the ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables on the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time multiple times a day.  


Today, this treatment option is performed less commonly. However, manipulation under anesthesia can help to loosen up shoulder tissue. A healthcare provider will gently raise your arm in order to release the adhesions in the shoulder capsule and get your shoulder moving. 

Even with proper treatment, full recovery from a frozen shoulder can take from nine months to two years. At Southeast Pain and Spine Care, we not only have the required expertise and experience but also use advanced pain management techniques to control and relieve pain. Make an appointment with us today to receive quality, non-surgical pain relief.