Looking for the best science-driven frozen shoulder treatment at home? Then you’ve come to the right place!
As a physical therapist, I understand how difficult it is to get treatment for a frozen shoulder. You may be too busy at work, or your budget just isn’t enough to cover physical therapy.
So, here is a list of home remedies to bridge that gap. I recommend them even to my patients with frozen shoulders.
These won’t substitute a proper physical therapy session, though. But they will jumpstart your recovery. Here they are – tap on any of them to navigate through the article:
- 3 Frozen shoulder exercises
- Heat therapy
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Improve your sleep
- Start walking often
6 Home treatments for frozen shoulder relief
1) Do these frozen shoulder exercises
Joint mobilization and stretching exercises are two useful interventions that are beneficial for your shoulder pain and stiffness. (1)
Mobilizations can decrease pain sensitivity around your joint capsule. While stretching can relax tight muscles. (2)
Here are 3 effective frozen shoulder exercises that you can do daily to relieve symptoms:
This will help: 14 exercises to heal your frozen shoulder (physio-approved)
Instructions: 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Start in a standing position.
- Hold onto a sturdy chair or table while you lean forward, bending at your hips.
- Relax your affected arm and let it dangle freely, pointing to the floor.
- Shift your bodyweight forwards and backward.
- Use your body’s momentum to your arm swing freely.
Pro-tip: If you want more stretch, grab hold of a 2lb dumbbell or a can of beans while you perform the exercise.
Instructions: Hold for 30 seconds and repeat thrice.
- Start in either standing or sitting position.
- Cross your affected arm over your chest.
- With your other arm, grab hold onto the upper arm bone that’s across your body.
- Pull it towards you.
- You should be feeling a stretch (not pain) at the back of your shoulder.
Instructions: 2 sets of 10 repetitions. For each rep, hold the end-range for 5 seconds.
- Start in a sitting position, holding onto a cane/stick.
- Hold the instrument with the palm face-up on your affected arm, palm face-down on the other.
- Slowly raise your affected arm sideward while using your good arm as a guide.
- Use that sensation of “pain about to start” as a limit.
This will help: 10 shoulder exercises with a wand for relief.
2) Do heat therapy for shoulder pain relief
This home remedy may take the form of gel packs or even a warm shower. Personally, I recommend gel packs – they can easily mold around your joint and you can keep them on for a while.
Here’s how you can DIY a hot pack at home:
- Place a small face towel right inside a medium-sized resealable plastic bag.
- Pour in warm to hot water, enough to dampen the towel.
- Seal the plastic bag and wrap it with another thin towel.
- Place it over your shoulder joint for 15 minutes.
- Check your skin every 5 minutes to avoid skin burns.
- If it’s too hot, wrap the plastic bag with another layer of a thin towel.
3) Massage your shoulder joint
Another way to help improve shoulder mobility is by doing self-myofascial release or massage. (5)
See, due to prolonged pain, your shoulder muscles and other connective tissue surrounding your arm can tense and tighten up. (6)
Massage can counteract this. It can provide pain relief, reduce muscle tension, and eventually improve your range of motion. (5)
Here is a quick way to do self-myofascial release by using a tennis/lacrosse ball:
First, look for a tender point around your shoulder with the ball. Then, you can:
- Use your hand to roll and put pressure on the ball, or
- Pin the ball in between you and a wall, rolling and placing pressure by using your body weight.
Continue rolling the ball around until it stops feeling good or after you feel your muscles relax.
Learn more: Massage techniques for frozen shoulder.
4) Take anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain
There can be moments when pain is so severe that it can disrupt your sleep. Taking an anti-inflammatory medication, like NSAIDs, can quickly ease your symptoms.
NSAIDs help reduce pain and inflammation. (7) They can be a temporary solution in cases of sudden flare-ups while you continue with your home exercises.
There are over-the-counter variants available like ibuprofen and naproxen. If you need a stronger dose, you might need to check first with your doctor.
5) Have a consistent bedtime routine
If you frequently lose sleep, it can make you even more sensitive to pain. (9) This can lead to a vicious cycle of lack of sleep due to increased pain.
An easy way to tackle this is by adopting good bedtime habits. They can slowly transition both your mind and body from work to rest mode, making you sleep better.
A few tips for a better bedtime routine for frozen shoulder are to:
- Avoid screens that emit blue light an hour before you sleep. This includes your phone, e-reader, and television.
- Take a warm bath.
- Avoid alcohol or caffeine a few hours before your bedtime.
This can help: How to sleep with a frozen shoulder?
6) Go for a walk
If your frozen shoulder is still too sensitive for specific exercises or massage, then you can try implementing a walking program.
Aside from regulating your blood pressure, it is also a good way to keep your joints healthy and well-lubricated.
Start by walking for 10 minutes. Don’t forget to sway your shoulders naturally. Add increments of 5 minutes on every walking session as long as it doesn’t aggravate your shoulder pain.
How do you treat frozen shoulder naturally?
The key here is to keep moving your arm within its pain-free range. This can either be done through walking or doing specific stretching exercises.
Can frozen shoulder go away on its own?
Yes. Frozen shoulder is a self-limiting condition, meaning it will resolve on its own. But it may take two to three years before it does so.
What aggravates frozen shoulder?
Depending on what stage you are in, sometimes pain can be worse at night and during extremes of shoulder motion.
Conclusion: Frozen shoulder fastest treatment at home
As you already know, at-home treatment for frozen shoulder is possible! It won’t cost a lot and all the things that you might need are all accessible at home.
It may not show results as quickly as you might want it to be. But you need to stay consistent with your treatment and be positive that you’ll eventually get better down the road.
- Kelley, Martin J et al. “Shoulder pain and mobility deficits: adhesive capsulitis.” The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy vol. 43,5 (2013): A1-31. DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2013.0302
- Kisner, Carolyn PT MS. Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques. F.A. Davis Company; Fifth edition (April 17, 2007). https://books.google.es/books?id=yZc6DwAAQBAJ&pg=PR11&lpg=PR11&dq#v=onepage&q&f=false
- Malanga, Gerard A et al. “Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury.” Postgraduate medicine vol. 127,1 (2015): 57-65. DOI: 10.1080/00325481.2015.992719
- Leung, May S F, and Gladys L Y Cheing. “Effects of deep and superficial heating in the management of frozen shoulder.” Journal of rehabilitation medicine vol. 40,2 (2008): 145-50. DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0146
- Shih, Yi-Fen et al. “The immediate effect of muscle release intervention on muscle activity and shoulder kinematics in patients with frozen shoulder: a cross-sectional, exploratory study.” BMC musculoskeletal disorders vol. 18,1 499. 28 Nov. 2017, doi: 10.1186/s12891-017-1867-8
- Hollmann, L et al. “Does muscle guarding play a role in range of motion loss in patients with frozen shoulder?.” Musculoskeletal science & practice vol. 37 (2018): 64-68. DOI: 10.1016/j.msksp.2018.07.001
- Le, Hai V et al. “Adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder: review of pathophysiology and current clinical treatments.” Shoulder & elbow vol. 9,2 (2017): 75-84. doi: 10.1177/1758573216676786
- Toprak, M, and M Erden. “Sleep quality, pain, anxiety, depression and quality of life in patients with frozen shoulder1.” Journal of back and musculoskeletal rehabilitation vol. 32,2 (2019): 287-291. DOI: 10.3233/BMR-171010
- Sivertsen, Børge et al. “Sleep and pain sensitivity in adults.” Pain vol. 156,8 (2015): 1433-1439. DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000131