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Painful, Stiff Shoulder? Could Be a "Frozen Shoulder"

Can’t grab things off the shelf?

Can’t lift your arm to wash your hair or put on a shirt?

Forget swinging a golf club!

It gets old not being able to do simple things because of a painful, stiff shoulder. It you are limited by this condition you probably has a “Frozen Shoulder.”

What Caused My “Frozen Shoulder?

Cannot recall an injury? One day you woke up with a sore shoulder that felt a little stiff. Shoulder pain and stiffness gradually increased. Now you are not able to do things that you could before.

We can figure out what caused it most of the time. You will be surprised. IT is usually something that didn’t cause your shoulder to hurt at the time. Something like shoveling snow or reaching to grab and bag. Your shoulder ends up with swelling on the inside. This results in scarring. You end up with a stiff and painful frozen shoulder.

My Friend Said It’s My Rotator Cuff

Your rotator cuff is made up of muscles deep in your shoulder. If you pain is from a rotator cuff muscle some shoulder movements cause pain and weakness. Other shoulder movements are normal and don’t hurt.

With a frozen shoulder all shoulder movements are limited by stiffness and the muscles are not weak.

How Do I Warm-Up My Frozen shoulder?

Pendulum Exercise

The easiest thing you can do at home is “Pendulum Exercises” (see photo). Bend forward at your waist and with your injured arm hanging straight down. Support yourself with the other arm on a table or chair. Gently swing the arm hanging down in small circles in both directions. If it doesn’t hurt, hold a light weight. Try this 2-3 minutes – 2-3 times a day.

Pulley Exercise

Another really good exercise to do at home uses a shoulder pulley (see photo). You use your good arm to lift your bad arm, gently stretching it straight up in front and straight out to the side and all the angles in between. Try this 2-3 minutes – 2-3 times a day. To see the shoulder pulley and other shoulder stretching exercises click here to link our YouTube shoulder stretch playlist.

You can buy shoulder pulleys - just do an online search for a "shoulder pulley". A lot of people make their own – online search “How do I make a shoulder pulley.”


If your shoulder doesn't respond to these exercises call our office to schedule an appointment. Call 860-228-4883 for the Hebron office and 860-537-3014 for the Colchester office. You may not have a frozen shoulder or may need additional treatment.

Christopher DiPasquale, PhD, PT, OCS, SCS, CHT is a physical therapist at Performance Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine with offices in Hebron and Colchester, Connecticut. He is board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and Sports Physical Therapy and a Certified Hand

Therapist by the Hand Therapy Certification Committee.

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