A frozen shoulder occurs when you suffer pain and limited movement in your shoulder. The condition is often the result of an injury, but also appears in people with certain diseases or other health concerns. Diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke and lung disease increase your risk of frozen shoulder occurrences, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. When the pain persists to the point that you need cortisone injections, you can also help encourage healing with gradual stretches under your doctor's supervision and guidance.
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Stretching and Cortisone Injections
Stretching is important after a cortisone injection because it helps distribute the cortisone throughout the joint space. Your doctor or physical therapist will advise you on the duration and frequency of your stretching. If you do not follow the routine and work your shoulder properly, the cortisone will not spread throughout the joint or be effective.
Certain stretches can help loosen a frozen shoulder. Along with stretching at home on your own, you may visit a physical therapist who can help encourage additional progress in your range of motion. Stretch your arm across your chest and extend it straight to help loosen your shoulder. Stand in the center of a doorway, facing the trim. Stretch your arm to a 90-degree angle until your fingers touch the door jamb. Turn your body away from your arm until your back is against the door jamb, facing away from the door. Another method you can use to stretch your shoulder requires you to lie on your back, with shoulders flat and legs straight. Lift your arm, using your uninjured arm to support it, until it is far enough over your head for you to feel it start to pull slightly. Hold it for 15 seconds before releasing it and returning it to your side.
Preparation and Recovery
Before you start stretching, take a hot shower and let the water run on your shoulder for a few minutes. The heat from the water loosens your muscles to improve the effectiveness of your stretches. After stretching, apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce pain and discomfort. Take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever if your doctor recommends it.
There are several treatments used for a frozen shoulder. If anti-inflammatory medications, therapy and cortisone injections fail to correct the problem, surgical approaches may be considered. Surgery is a final option, taken only after all other treatment methods have been exhausted. Recovery periods following surgery can range from six to 12 weeks.