Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is a painful condition that can take months or even years to resolve. Therefore, after you are discharged from physiotherapy, you will be given a home exercise program to follow. You should be careful to do the exercises as indicated, i.e. number of repetitions, frequency etc. By doing so, you will get the utmost benefit out of the program. The following is a list of tips that will help you get the most out of your home routine.
- Use heat before exercising. Your physiotherapist would have showed you how to do this. Using heat helps to relax the muscle fibres, promote blood flow and make the workout less painful.
- Frequent short sessions are better than trying to do a whole chunk at one time. For example, you can do 10-15 minute sessions every hour. Not only will this be more effective, it will also be less painful (and less boring). After exercising, you may use an ice pack to cool down.
- Pain medication is best taken about 20-30 minutes before exercising. Taking it after exercising is not as effective. Be sure to use any medication exactly as prescribed.
- Exercises that target the capsular (shoulder blade) region should be undertaken first, then move to the shoulder, elbow and wrist. The rule of thumb is to move from proximal (top) to distal (bottom). It is important to exercise the distal joints as they tend to become tight from lack of use.
- Having a buddy to help you with passive stretches is a good idea, just make sure that he/she understands what is to be done and does not stretch your shoulder past your comfort level. Pain should never be sharp or unbearable. Your physiotherapist can tell you which exercises are safe enough to involve a partner.
- Adhesive capsulitis affects lots of diabetics, therefore if you are a diabetic, you should consult your doctor about the use of heat or ice with exercise. Diabetes affects sensation and some people can suffer serious burns because they are unable to gauge the correct temperature. Those with sensitive skin should also seek their doctor's advice.
By following these tips, you can help bring this condition under control, but it takes time.
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