Breaking the Ice: Massage and Stretching To Ease Frozen Shoulder Pain

Have you ever winced from that twinge of discomfort when trying to put on a shirt, reach for something on a high shelf or grab something above your head? It’s a reminder that our shoulders are pretty intricate structures, and sometimes, they can throw us a curveball in the form of pain or discomfort. It often only crosses your mind once the shoulder pain strikes, and determining its cause or alleviating it with pain relievers might only sometimes yield clear results. 


If you’re experiencing some nagging dull pain or grappling with intense pain or are aware of an injury, it’s advisable to promptly consult a shoulder specialist to receive a proper diagnosis for your condition before the condition worsens.

Shoulder Pain is a common complaint in Primary Care.

In Singapore, General practitioners (GPs) are commonly presented with shoulder pain from patients. As the first point of contact for many individuals seeking medical assistance, GPs are in a prime position to identify and provide initial treatments for the various underlying conditions contributing to shoulder pain.


Where patients seek assistance for discomfort that hampers their daily activities. The range of causes of this discomfort is diverse and can span from minor muscle strains to more complex structural issues within the shoulder joint. Fortunately, GPs can diagnose these conditions and provide essential first-line treatments. One standard remedy is pain medication, which can significantly alleviate patients’ pain and improve their overall quality of life.

Common causes of Shoulder Pain

Therapist performing a massage to alleviate frozen shoulder pain.

Let’s break down some of the common shoulder conditions that can be the source of these unwelcome sensations:

  • Rotator Cuff Tears: These happen when the muscles and tendons that stabilize your shoulder joint get worn out. You might feel pain when lifting your arm or doing certain movements.
  • Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): This is akin to a stiff welcome signboard. The capsule around your shoulder gets tight and stiff, making it harder to move your arm around smoothly.
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome: Imagine your shoulder’s tendons being caught in a bit of a squeeze between the bones. Ouch! This can result in pain and limit your ability to reach above your head comfortably.
  • Bursitis: The bursa, a little fluid-filled cushion, can get inflamed and cause severe discomfort, especially with movement.
  • Tendinitis: When a tendon gets inflamed, it’s like a grumpy neighbour making their presence known. You might feel pain when moving your shoulder, especially with repetitive actions.
  • Shoulder Instability: Sometimes it feels like your shoulder is on the edge of a cliff, about to slip off. Instability can lead to feelings of the shoulder being loose or even “popping out.”
  • Labral Tears: Think of the labrum as your shoulder’s security guard. Tears in this cartilage ring can cause pain, a clicking sensation, or even a sense of unsteadiness.
  • Arthritis: Just like your knees or hips, your shoulder joints can develop arthritis. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion.
  • Fractures: Your shoulder bones might take a hit if you’ve taken a tumble or had a sports mishap. Fractures can bring some severe pain and restriction in movement.
  • Nerve Impingement (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome): Nerves can sometimes get caught in the shoulder’s hustle and bustle, causing tingling, numbness, and discomfort down your arm.
  • Referred Pain: It’s like your body playing a game of telephone. Pain from other areas, like your neck or upper back, can be felt in your shoulder, leaving you puzzled.
  • Tendon Tears and Ruptures: Remember the rotator cuff? Other tendons can also tear or pop, leading to pain and a “what just happened?” moment.

Among the various common shoulder conditions, adhesive capsulitis, commonly referred to as frozen shoulder, is a prevalent shoulder condition that primarily affects individuals over 40 and is more common in women.

Deep dive into more on Frozen shoulder

Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis) involves the gradual tightening and thickening of the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint. This leads to stiffness and reduced range of motion in the shoulder. The term “frozen” accurately captures the sensation that the shoulder becomes less mobile and more challenging to move freely.


This condition typically progresses through three distinct stages: 

  1. The freezing stage: During this phase, individuals experience a gradual increase in pain and stiffness in the shoulder. The pain can be particularly pronounced during movement and often worsens at night. As the freezing stage advances, the range of motion becomes progressively limited, making daily activities such as reaching overhead or behind the back increasingly difficult.
  2. The frozen stage:The frozen stage follows, during which the pain might decrease, but the stiffness remains. This stage can persist for several months, making it challenging to perform routine tasks that involve arm movement. 
  3. The thawing stage: Finally, the thawing stage brings relief as the shoulder gradually regains mobility. The recovery in the thawing stage can take months to years, but over time, the range of motion improves, and the discomfort diminishes.


While the exact cause of a frozen shoulder is not always clear. It can develop spontaneously. However, the frozen shoulder also tends to occur more frequently in patients with endocrine disorders, such as diabetes, cardiac or thyroid disorders, Parkinson’s disease and shoulder immobility due to injury or surgery. Diagnosis is often based on the individual’s symptoms, physical examination, and imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans.

Adopting a comprehensive approach to Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Young woman receiving a shoulder massage at The Outcall Spa.

Frozen shoulder treatment typically involves a combination of approaches. Physical therapy is a cornerstone, focusing on gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises to prevent further stiffness and aid recovery. Pain management strategies like over-the-counter pain relievers or, in more severe cases, corticosteroid injections, can help alleviate discomfort. 


In rare instances where other treatments haven’t been effective, surgical intervention might be considered to release the tightened capsule.


As such, it’s worth considering complementary treatments like massage therapy as a comprehensive approach to frozen shoulder treatment. 


Massage is truly supportive for your frozen shoulder recovery journey—massage therapy. It’s not just a luxury; it can be a real game-changer in how you recover and feel.


Finding Relief in Pain and Relaxation: A frozen shoulder can be a tough cookie, often causing discomfort and pain. Here’s where massage works its magic. Those gentle techniques aren’t just soothing; they stimulate your body’s natural painkillers and endorphins. Plus, the relaxation you experience during a session can give your mind a break from the mental and emotional weight of dealing with discomfort day in and day out.


Easing the Weight of Stress: We get it—managing something like a frozen shoulder takes a toll on your mental well-being. That’s why consistent massage sessions offer a designated time to unwind. Reducing stress and anxiety isn’t just about feeling good at the moment; it positively affects your patience and mental strength as you progress in your recovery.


Getting a Mood Boost: Believe it or not, massage doesn’t just work on your muscles but also on your mood. When massaged, your brain releases feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. A brighter outlook isn’t just a random perk; it can make you more patient and proactive in your recovery journey.


Restful Nights with Better Sleep: The discomfort from frozen shoulder can seriously mess with your sleep. Massage promotes a calmer state of mind that can lead to improved sleep quality. Better sleep equals more patience and a clearer head.


A Connection between Body and Mind: There’s something beautiful about the way massage helps you reconnect with your body. This heightened awareness can make you more patient and compassionate toward yourself as you navigate through the ups and downs of recovery.


Empowerment in your Hands: Collaborating with a skilled massage therapist empowers you to take charge of your recovery. You’ll learn techniques, stretches, and relaxation methods that put you back in control and make you feel like an active participant in your healing.


Step-by-Step Progress: As your recovery journey unfolds, those gentle massage techniques can coax movement back into your affected shoulder. Little by little, you’ll feel your patience grow as you witness these small but significant signs of progress.


Personal Attention, Personal Progress: The beauty of working with a knowledgeable massage therapist is that the sessions are tailored just for you. They address your unique needs, making you feel understood and encouraged.


A Wholesome Approach to Healing: Massage isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution; it’s part of a bigger picture. Alongside medical guidance, physical therapy, and self-care practices, massage contributes to an overall sense of improvement, fostering patience at every step.


Open Communication, Better Results: Keeping the lines of communication open with your massage therapist and healthcare professionals is vital. They’re here to ensure the massage sessions are safe and beneficial, so sharing specifics about your condition, pain levels, and concerns is crucial.


Massage, a Partner in Recovery: While massage is a star player in recovering patience and nurturing overall wellness during your frozen shoulder journey, remember it’s a piece of the puzzle. Teaming up with medical experts, physical therapists, and massage therapists creates a supportive environment that nurtures physical healing and emotional well-being.


So, as you embrace the advantages of massage for boosting patience and promoting wellness during your frozen shoulder recovery, do keep in mind that it’s all part of a comprehensive plan. You’ve got a team of experts rallying around you, helping you find strength and healing from every angle. 


The Outcall Spa offer much more than just a surface-level experience – they delve deeper into providing benefits beyond the skin’s surface. We provide you with a holistic approach from the ambience to service and to the care for your body inside and out, providing you with some ease of discomfort from your pains.


The Outcall Spa was established in early 2016 and is Singapore’s No.1 choice for professional therapy in the comfort of your home. If you have doubts you can reach out to use via call or WhatsApp us for more information.

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