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Frozen shoulder syndrome occurs when the mobility of your shoulder joint is restricted to the degree that it feels frozen in place. The limited range of motion of your shoulder joint makes it difficult or painful to perform certain movements.

To regain mobility, you must create an effective treatment plan involving stretching and massage. It’s best to treat frozen shoulder under the guidance of a doctor or physical therapist.

Continue reading to learn how to heal frozen shoulder using massages and stretches as well as the trigger points associated with this condition.

Myofascial trigger points in the muscles of the shoulder and surrounding areas can cause frozen shoulder.

Trigger points are muscle knots, lumps, or sensitive areas that can occur due to injury, overuse, or referred pain from another area of your body. They can cause pain, reduced mobility, and muscle weakness. Trigger points can also lead to poor circulation, contractions, and spasms.

There are certain trigger points connected to frozen shoulder. Learning about these specific areas may help you to understand how to treat frozen shoulder.

Trigger points related to frozen shoulder are found in any of the shoulder or arm muscles. These diagrams show the common trigger points for frozen shoulder (front and back).

Talk to your doctor before doing any massages or stretches for a frozen shoulder. A physical therapist can select the appropriate massages and stretches to treat your shoulder. They’ll also make sure you’re doing them correctly. If done incorrectly, massages can cause further injury.

Exercise caution when doing stretches or massage for frozen shoulder. If you can, get a professional massage. You can also do self-massage to treat frozen shoulder on your own.

Foam roller underarm massage

  1. Place a foam roller under the underarm of your affected arm.
  2. Rest your arm on the floor.
  3. Lengthen your arm.
  4. Gently roll back and forth over the foam roller.
  5. Continue for up to 1 minute.

Foam roller shoulder massage

  1. Place a foam roller under the underarm of your affected arm.
  2. Lengthen your arm, keeping the hand of your affect arm extended upward.
  3. Roll back and forth a few times.

Simple self-massage

  1. Use your opposite hand to massage your affected shoulder and arm.
  2. Focus on any sensitive areas.
  3. Gently move your affected arm as you massage your shoulder and arm.

Electronic massage

You can also use an electronic massage tool to improve mobility and relieve tension. Focus on tender areas and trigger points.

Prime your shoulder muscles for movement by warming up your body. You can do this by taking a warm shower or bath. Or use a heating pad on the affected area.

Stretch to your point of sensation without causing pain. Be gentle and avoid forcing any of the movements. Do these stretches several times throughout the day.

Pendulum swing

As you progress, do this stretch while holding a light dumbbell.

  1. From standing, place your unaffected hand on the edge of a table or chair.
  2. Lean forward slightly and place your affected arm alongside your body.
  3. Swing your arm forward and backward.
  4. Then swing it side-to-side.
  5. Swing your arms in circles in both directions.
  6. Do each movement 10 times.

Cross-body stretch

  1. From standing, place the hand of your affected arm on your opposite shoulder.
  2. Use your opposite hand to gently press your affected elbow toward your body.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  4. Repeat 5 times.

Umbrella push

  1. Sit in a chair with your elbows alongside your body.
  2. Use an overhand grip to hold an umbrella in front of you.
  3. Use your unaffected arm to push your affected arm over to the side.
  4. Keep the elbow of your affected arm drawn in at your side.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat 5 times.

Hand-behind-back stretch

This stretch requires more mobility, so you may not be able to do it right away.

  1. From standing, place your affected arm behind your back.
  2. Use your opposite hand to take hold of this wrist.
  3. Gently stretch your affected arm by moving it toward the opposite buttock.
  4. Gently move it as far up as possible.
  5. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  6. Repeat 5 times.

Towel stretch

  1. From standing, use both hands to hold a dishtowel horizontally behind your back.
  2. Use your opposite arm to pull your affected arm upward.
  3. Stretch and lengthen the muscles in your affected shoulder and arm.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  5. Repeat 5 times.

Advanced version of the towel stretch

  1. Place a dishtowel over your unaffected shoulder and hold the top end.
  2. Use your affected arm to hold the bottom of the towel.
  3. Gently pull it down toward your lower back.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  5. Repeat 5 times.

Cross-body reach

  1. From sitting or standing, place your unaffected hand on your affected elbow.
  2. Draw your affected arm across your body.
  3. Use gentle pressure to lift your elbow and stretch your shoulder.
  4. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 5 times.

Massage and stretching are extremely beneficial for treating frozen shoulder pain.

  • Massage helps to relieve tension and tightness so your muscles can relax. This helps to restore mobility and improve function. It also may help improve blood flow to the affected area and reduce inflammation.
  • Stretching improves flexibility, increases range of motion, and lengthens muscle fibers.

Both of these treatments can alleviate pain and discomfort. This allows you to feel more at ease as you go about your daily activities, so you’re more likely to stay active.

Frozen shoulder, technically called adhesive capsulitis, is a common condition that causes stiffness, pain, and discomfort in your shoulder joint. It occurs when the range of motion of your shoulder joint is reduced to the point that it feels as though your shoulder is frozen.

Frozen shoulder usually affects people between the ages of 40 and 70. It’s caused by inflammation, repetitive motions, or extended periods of disuse. Lack of mobility when you’re healing from a medical condition, procedure, or injury can also be a cause. At times the cause is unknown.

Initially, the symptoms of this syndrome are minor but progressively get worse. Due to the discomfort and loss of range of motion, people who have frozen shoulder tend to use their shoulder less, which further reduces mobility.

Not using your shoulder can exacerbate your symptoms, so it’s important to keep your shoulder mobile. Massages and stretches can increase your range of motion and alleviate pain.

If you have pain that’s long lasting and gets in the way of your daily activities, see a doctor to diagnose your condition. They’ll ask about your symptoms, previous injuries, and any activities that exacerbate your condition.

A doctor can observe your active and passive range of motion. Usually, they’ll be able to diagnose your condition based on your signs and symptoms. If necessary, they’ll do an imaging test such as an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound to eliminate other causes.

Your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist, who can create an individual treatment plan.

Frozen shoulder is a common condition that can become serious if it’s not treated correctly. You can treat this condition with specific massages and stretches. It’s best to do these with the instruction of a doctor or physical therapist.

Stay active during your recovery and be patient since it can take several months to fully heal a frozen shoulder.