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A Frozen Shoulder Is More than Just a Cold Shoulder

A Frozen Shoulder Is More than Just a Cold Shoulder

Whether you find the snow outside delightful or frightful, you should probably try to avoid the cold if you have a frozen shoulder. A frozen shoulder is an often-painful condition that can be exacerbated by the cold and may feel worse at night.

What Is a Frozen Shoulder?

The condition is technically called adhesive capsulitis. The shoulder joint is a ball on a socket, and the lining of the joint is called a capsule. A frozen shoulder results when the capsule gets inflamed and thickened, leading to motion stiffness, pain, and scarring of tissue.

Diagnosis Is Key

Because stiffness and limited range of motion may be the result of other common conditions such as a rotator cuff injury or arthritis, it is important to see a health care professional for a full exam. If left untreated, a frozen shoulder can last for two to three years, though most begin to get better on their own.


  • Physical therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen
  • Possible surgery for patients who have had symptoms over six months

Daily Exercises to Help

There are a few easy stretching exercises that may help a frozen shoulder. Stretch the arm to a position of discomfort and hold for 10 seconds each time. Perform each 10-20 times per day.

  • Towel stretch – Holding a towel horizontally behind the back, with an end in each hand, use the good arm to pull the affected arm upward.
  • Cross-body reach – This familiar stretch can be done sitting or standing. Use your good arm to lift your sore arm at the elbow and bring it across your body, applying light pressure to stretch the elbow.
  • Finger walk – Face the wall about three-fourths of an arm length away. Reach out with your affected arm at waist level and touch the wall with your fingertips. Keep your elbow slightly bent and slowly walk your fingertips up the wall as high as you can reach, making sure your fingertips are doing the work—not your shoulder.