Helpful tips: What helps with a frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder: What helps with "frozen shoulder"?

With a so-called "frozen shoulder", shoulder pain and stiffening of the shoulder often occur for no apparent reason. The disease usually heals itself without treatment. However, it can often take several months for the pain to go away completely. Some tips can help relieve the discomfort and improve mobility.

A shoulder stiffness, or "frozen shoulder" (English "Frozen Shoulder") is a lengthy and very painful disease that can significantly affect everyday life. According to experts, an estimated two to five percent of the population will have to deal with it at some point, women a little more often than men. Some tips can help sufferers to alleviate the symptoms.

Sometimes the arm can hardly be moved

Like Dr. Christopher Camp, an orthopedic surgeon at the renowned Mayo Clinic (USA) explained in a contribution, is the scientific name for the shoulder stiffness "Adhesive Capsulitis".

The illness begins insidiously, explains the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) on its patient information portal "".

According to the experts, the initially only mild complaints become stronger over a few months and then often disturb sleep. The pain is often described as dull and deep.

"You can also radiate to the biceps. It is becoming increasingly difficult to move the affected arm up and back. The arm can become so stiff over time that you can hardly move it: it is like "frozen", writes the IQWiG.

Disease in three phases

“There are three phases to the frozen shoulder, and the symptoms and treatment options depend on which phase you are in. The first phase is an inflammatory phase, ”says Dr. Camp. That is the painful phase.

The shoulder starts to hurt more and more. The discomfort can also occur at rest and at night, especially if you are lying on the affected arm or if you move your shoulder up or back.

According to the doctor, rest and steroid injections can help at this stage.

For those who want to try out a gentle exercise in the first phase of illness, IQWiG has the following suggestion:

  • Bend forward and hold your arm to a chair or table.
  • Let the aching arm hang and then gently swing it in a circular motion. However, this shouldn't be too uncomfortable.
  • The pendulum movement can also be generated by moving the upper body slightly without using the muscles of the arm.

Complaints can last for months

In the second phase of the disease, the shoulder gradually “freezes”. The mobility decreases, the pain subsides. Due to the restricted movement, the shoulder muscles often lose a little. According to Dr. Camp works well during this phase of physiotherapy.

The third phase ... "... is what we call thawing, which means that it finally begins to relax, relax, and move again," said Dr. Camp.

The symptoms often improve significantly within a few months. It can take longer until the shoulder is as flexible or almost as flexible as before.

If the symptoms don't go away in six to 12 months, surgery can be considered, the Mayo Clinic post said.

According to the IQWiG, such interventions have not been shown to help better than conservative treatment with cortisone and physiotherapy. Since there are various risks of surgery and anesthesia, it makes sense to carefully consider the decision for an intervention. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic Minute: Helpful tips for a frozen shoulder, (accessed: January 15, 2020), Mayo Clinic
  • Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG): Shoulder stiffness, (accessed: January 15, 2020),
  • Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG): What helps with shoulder stiffness ?, (accessed: January 15, 2020),

Video: Frozen Shoulder Stretches u0026 Exercises - Ask Doctor Jo (January 2022).