What not to do with a frozen shoulder

What not to do with a frozen shoulder


A frozen shoulder is a specific shoulder complaint that needs a lot of patience. This is because it can take up to three years before being complaint free. But there are also people who go through a frozen shoulder within one year. So what’s the difference between these groups of people? Or in other words, what were the differences in their rehab approach? Well in this blog we will discuss what you shouldn’t do if you have been diagnosed with a frozen shoulder.

Have some patience

So a frozen shoulder is something that can take up to three years. So patience is a must. And that’s also the first thing that you shouldn’t be doing, being impatient. Being impatient won’t help your frozen shoulder. Let’s say that you’re impatient, you will be trying to rush your rehab, won’t listen to your physiotherapist and will only irritate the shoulder joint more often. And irritating the shoulder joint and shoulder capsule is, like we mentioned in our previous blog about frozen shoulder, only going to slow down your recovery. So instead of trying to rush your recovery, try to find peace with the fact that it will take a longer period of time to become complaint free. Because if you’ll find that peace, your recovery will only speed up.

Respect your pain

Especially if you follow the next few things to avoid. And the next one is not respecting your pain limits. Before we go deeper into this one, we want you to know that you shouldn’t be scared of pain in your shoulder. Because there will be moments when you drop your phone or your kid falls off a chair and you react to it. And because of that reaction, you’ll probably feel your shoulder at that point. And that’s not wrong. But if you can prevent pain with, for instance not grabbing something out of a closet with your injured arm or walking your dog holding the leash in your other arm you’re already doing a great job. So what we mean to say is, don’t be afraid of your shoulder pain, but respect it!

Don’t over treat your frozen shoulder

The third thing to avoid is over treating your shoulder in the first phase of your frozen shoulder. In the first phase of your frozen shoulder, your shoulder is irritated and a physiotherapist can’t help you with mobilizations or other passive treatments. Of course your shoulder will feel less painful after the treatment, but that’s just for a short period of time. And that’s exactly what the evidence tells us. It’s only helpful in the short run and won’t make a difference in the long run. It will only cost you time and probably money.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t see a physio. We do even suggest seeing a physio in person or remotely. Because your physio can advise you and guide you in what type of movements to avoid and what type of exercises to do in the first phase. Maybe see them again after a couple of weeks or months but most important is that you try to give your shoulder time to cool down and to get that irritation out of it. If your shoulder is less irritated you can increase the frequency at your physio or with us. So they can give you more mobilization drills and exercises. Because passive treatments are still not helpful in the long run.

Stay away from injections

The fourth thing to avoid is having a shoulder injection too soon. There’s a place for shoulder injections. But only if the shoulder is way too painful. So if your shoulder is really painful, only then we would suggest a shoulder injection. If your shoulder isn’t that painful, it will only decrease the pain for a short period of time, and won’t help you in the long run. And we hear you thinking, but that’s great, because you want to have less pain. But if you get a shoulder injection you’re injecting something that isn’t that good for your body. So if you can go without it, try to go without it. You can also decrease the pain with just not irritating your shoulder that much.

Stretch within your limits

The last thing to avoid in the treatment of a frozen shoulder which we will discuss in this blog is the overstretching of the shoulder. If you’re having a frozen shoulder you will probably know by now that your shoulder will become stiff and that you’ll be losing mobility. So the first obvious thought is stretching the shoulder. And that’s good, but you don’t want to stretch it too far. We usually tell our patients that reaching overhead slightly into discomfort is enough for your shoulder. And that you shouldn’t be feeling discomfort for more than 4 hours after the stretch or exercise session when you’re still in your first phase of a frozen shoulder. If the pain is already less present, it’s okay to feel some discomfort for 12 hours after your session. But just make sure that you don’t overstretch your shoulder. Because when you do, you’re probably irritating your shoulder too much and only slowing things down.

So if you’re diagnosed with a frozen shoulder, make sure that you follow these rules we just mentioned. And make sure that you find a physiotherapist that specializes in frozen shoulders, so they can guide you through the rehab process. If you need personal help with your frozen shoulder consider booking an online appointment with our specialized physiotherapists.

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