Shoulder Stiffness

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Shoulder stiffness is a condition that affects the shoulder joint. It usually includes pain and stiffness that gradually progresses, gets worse, and then ultimately goes away. This takes anywhere from a year to 3 years.

Three bones that form a ball-and-socket joint make up your shoulder. These are your upper arm (humerus), your shoulder blade, and your collarbone (clavicle). Your shoulder joint is also covered by tissue that keeps it together. This is called the capsule on the shoulder.

The capsule becomes so heavy and rigid with shoulder stiffness that it's difficult to lift. To keep the joints lubricated, bands of scar tissue form and there is less of a liquid called synovial fluid. Such things restrict motion even more.


In your neck, back, and upper body, tight shoulders can cause pain or stiffness and restrict your daily activities. As a result of stress, tension, and overuse, your shoulders can feel tight and rigid. Sitting for long periods, inappropriate sleeping positions, and injuries can also be caused by tight shoulders. Bad posture and the body's improper alignment may also play a role.

Symptoms of Shoulder Stiffness

The symptoms of shoulder stiffness are pain and a frozen shoulder that make it difficult to move it. If you have shoulder stiffing, you’ll feel dull or achy pain in the shoulder. The pain in the muscles of the shoulder wrap around the top of your arm and can also be felt In your upper arm, you could experience the same sensation. At night, the pain could get worse, which can make it difficult to sleep.

The shoulder stiffness goes through 3 stages with a frozen shoulder:

Freezing Stage

  • It develops pain whenever there is a movement in the shoulder
  • It slowly gets worse over time and also hurts more at night
  • Limited movement of the shoulder

Frozen Stage

  • Pain might get better but the stiffness gets worse
  • It becomes more challenging to lift your arm and it becomes harder to get through everyday tasks
  • This stage lasts between 4-12 months

Thawing Stage

  • Your motion range is beginning to go back to normal
  • This can take from 6 months to 2 years


In a capsule of connective tissue, the bones, ligaments, and tendons that make up the shoulder joint are encased. As this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, the frozen shoulder occurs, preventing its mobility.

Doctors are not sure why this is happening to certain people, but it is more likely to happen in people with diabetes or others who have had to immobilize their shoulders for a long time later, such as after surgery or an arm fracture.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder

Age and Sex::

People above 30 years of age, particularly women are more likely to have shoulder stiffness

Immobility or Reduced Mobility::

People who have had prolonged immobility or reduced shoulder mobility are at higher risk of shoulder stiffness development. Immobility can result from many variables, including:

  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Broken arm
  • Stroke
  • Recovery from surgery

Systemic Diseases:

People with certain diseases are more likely to develop shoulder stiffness. The diseases include:

  • Diabetes
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Parkinson's disease

Shoulder Stiffness Exercises:

Range of Motion:

Stand up and lean over facing the floor. Enable your sore arm to dangle down straight. With your sore arm, make circles in the air. Start with small circles, and then draw larger ones. During the day, repeat these exercises 5 to 10 times. If you're feeling pain, stop. Later, you should try again.

Good Posture:

It can help avoid shoulder pain by providing good shoulder posture. Many individuals with shoulder pain often raise their shoulders or hunch them over. If you find yourself slumping or hunching, focus on improving your posture. Concentrate on getting your shoulder or shoulder blade down and holding it during the day. Standing against the wall with the back of your head, neck, legs, and feet hitting the wall is another exercise. Note if the uncomfortable blade of your shoulder does not fully hit the wall. Keep trying out the place all day long.

Upper Extremity Strengthening:

Try incorporating a general upper body weight-lifting program using weight machines or free weights as the pain goes away. Lie on the right side and have your left arm on your side. Raise your forearm with your weight in your left hand and your forearm over your tummy.

Shoulder Stiffness Treatment

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory nonsteroidal medications (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen can help to alleviate shoulder pain and inflammation. If they do not work, a stronger drug might be recommended by your doctor.

To increase your range of motion, your therapy can also include going to a physical therapist for strengthening and stretching exercises.

Your doctor can prescribe other kinds of treatments if your symptoms are serious or do not improve over time, including:

  • A corticosteroid injection to reduce the discomfort and improve the range of motion in your shoulder joint.
  • Joint distension. Relaxation. This means that sterile water will be pumped into your shoulder capsule by your doctor to stretch it. This will help you move more quickly with your shoulder.
  • Physical therapy, Results with Physical therapy are mixed, and it may be more useful during certain phases of Shoulder Stiffness than others.
  • Surgery is very rarely required for shoulder stiffness care. But your doctor may recommend surgery if other treatments haven't helped. That will possibly be an arthroscopic operation. That means it's done with light, pencil-sized instruments that are inserted into your shoulder through tiny cuts.
  • Shoulder manipulation can help to loosen the shoulder tissue, but since arthroscopic surgery has replaced it, it is very rarely performed anymore. Under general anesthesia, surgeons can forcefully move the elbow. There was an increased risk of complications, including fractures, with this procedure.


The immobility that can result during recovery from a shoulder injury, broken arm, or stroke is one of the most common causes of frozen shoulder. Speak to your doctor about exercises you should do to preserve the range of motion in your shoulder joint if you have sustained an injury that makes it difficult to lift your shoulder.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best exercise for shoulder pain?

  • Across-the-chest stretch
  • Neck release
  • Chest expansion
  • Eagle arms spinal rolls
  • Seated twist
  • Shoulder circles

2. How can I improve my shoulder flexibility?

To increase shoulder flexibility these are the few exercises:

  • Sleeper Stretch
  • Cross Arm Stretch
  • Pec Stretch
  • Modified Child’s Pose
  • Wall Angels

3. How can I get immediate relief from shoulder pain?

Pain relief can be helped by medications such as acetaminophen and aspirin. This helps to cope with the injury and get better sleep.

4. Is massage good for frozen shoulder?

For the treatment of frozen shoulder pain, massage and stretching are highly beneficial. Massage helps to alleviate pain and tightness in order to relax the muscles. This helps restore mobility and increase accessibility. It may also help increase the flow of blood to the infected region and decrease inflammation.

5. what causes tight shoulders?

As a result of stress, tension, and overuse, your shoulders can feel tight and rigid. Sitting for long periods, inappropriate sleeping positions, and injuries can also be caused by tight shoulders. Bad posture and the body's improper alignment may also cause a tight shoulder.

How to relax your shoulders while sleeping?

  • Use a different pillow
  • Put a small towel under your back
  • Using an extra pillow under your knees
  • Sleep on a small pillow

Can anxiety cause tight shoulders?

By leading to muscle pain and tightness, having regular feelings of fear, concern, and anxiety may affect the body. For people with panic disorder, muscle tension is a common problem.

When should I worry about shoulder pain?

You need medical attention immediately. When your shoulder pain is caused by an accident, you may also seek urgent medical attention. If you are experiencing a joint that is deformed, the inability to use the joint, extreme pain, or sudden swelling, please seek treatment immediately.

What deficiencies cause shoulder pain?

Muscle pain or weakness, often leading to a waddling gait, and joint pain or bone pain, most commonly involving the elbows, pelvis, ribs, and spine, are the many signs and symptoms of osteomalacia.

Is heat good for frozen shoulder?

People always assume that it's a smart idea to add heat to a frozen shoulder, but the opposite is true. The frozen shoulder will respond better to heat than to cold. So just buy the ice packs you can use, or just use a packet of peas.

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