Is Sauna Good for a Frozen Shoulder? (With Practical Tips & Advice)

It is estimated that about 2 to 5% of the American population are affected by a frozen shoulder at some point, but a lot of people do not know why this happens. Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, can get worse with time if not treated. 

A sauna session is a simple, therapeutic way to treat a frozen shoulder. In a sauna, heat penetrates deeply into joints, muscles, and body tissues, speeding up the flow of oxygen and blood circulation in the body. This makes the sauna an effective treatment for bone and joint-related problems like a frozen shoulder.

Keep reading to learn more about a frozen shoulder, its causes, the effects of heat and a sauna, as well as different natural methods of treatment.

What is a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder is a painful condition characterized by pain and stiffness in your shoulder joint. The shoulder becomes inflamed, and there is a limitation in movement. The more the pain is felt, the less movement of the shoulder. A frozen shoulder occurs when the shoulder joint capsule becomes inflamed, thick, and stiff. 

The shoulder joint capsule helps to keep the shoulder socket and upper arm bone (humeral head) together in place. When this capsule thickens and tightens, the shoulder becomes very hard to move – it can be said to be “frozen” at this point.

A frozen shoulder usually takes one to three years to start, develop, and resolve. You might have a higher risk of a frozen shoulder if you have a medical condition like a mastectomy or a stroke that prevents you from moving your arm well.

A frozen shoulder may arise after an injury or overuse. According to research, more than 10% of people with diabetes get a frozen shoulder. Other medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease, thyroid disease, and heart disease are also linked to a frozen shoulder. It can be treated by therapy like the sauna, painkillers, and range-of-motion exercises.

In extreme cases, surgery may be required to loosen the joint capsule. 

There are three stages of a frozen shoulder, namely:

  • Freezing or painful stage
  • Frozen stage
  • Thawing stage

Does heat help with frozen shoulders?

A frozen shoulder can be treated with natural treatment options like heat and ice. Compared to surgeries, drugs, and other treatment methods, heating has been around for many years and has always been used to soothe and heat frozen shoulders. Heating is one of the easiest and best methods of treatment if you experience a frozen shoulder.

Heat helps with a frozen shoulder by increasing the flow of blood circulation and stimulating the body’s healing response. Heat helps to relax the shoulder joint capsule, making it more flexible and pliable. This will give you a powerful advantage and speed up the natural healing process of your injury.

The conclusion is that heat is a natural pain reliever and can help relieve and heal bone and joint-related health conditions like frozen shoulder, arthritis, and chronic body pain.

Can a sauna help treat a frozen shoulder?

When the body’s temperature is hot in a sauna, the skin receptors partially block out the chemical trails that send pain signals to the brain. This is very helpful for a frozen shoulder. 

The body sweats more in a sauna and has a lot of positive health implications. The temperature of your body increases with time, and you can feel relaxed at the same time. Studies have shown that a 30-minute sauna session twice a week for four weeks can result in a 40% improvement in alleviating a frozen shoulder and stiffness of joints. 

The presence of toxins in your body can inhibit blood circulation, leading to increased body pains, loss of vitality, and a tendency towards health conditions and diseases. The sauna helps eliminate toxins and unwanted pollutants present in the body or on the skin surface.

Could the sauna help prevent a frozen shoulder from getting worse?

In the sauna, the heat causes the simulation of a relaxing response which relaxes the tendons and muscles. 

The heat in a sauna raises the overall body temperature and forces the immune system to produce more white blood cells. It also causes the dilation of the arteries and capillaries, increasing the flow of blood, which makes more oxygen travel to pain-affected areas. This will prevent a frozen shoulder from getting worse. 

Using a traditional sauna to help a frozen shoulder

To get the best out of a traditional sauna for a frozen shoulder, it should be heated to between 180°F and 190°F. The water is usually poured into the heated sauna stones to create the atmosphere of a traditional sauna. 

Sitting in a traditional sauna is a good way to combat a frozen shoulder. The heat it generates helps massively in relieving pain and relaxing sore muscles. Warmth makes the blood circulate better, and the movement of proteins and other nutrients reduces the stiffness of muscles.

A traditional sauna can lead to the invigoration of the body after use. The blood vessels are dilated and relaxed during a traditional sauna session. This leads to an increase in blood flow and reduction of tension in pain-affected joints and relieves muscle soreness. 

Using steam room to help a frozen shoulder

A steam room can help in the treatment of a frozen shoulder by relaxation of muscles and soothing pains in muscles and joints. The intense heat in a steam room causes the body to release neurotransmitters/hormones from the pituitary gland and central nervous system called Endorphins. 

Endorphins have a tranquilizing effect that helps to increase feelings of pleasure and also reduce discomfort and pains. They can also reduce joint pains, soreness of muscles, and any other similar discomfort. To help get rid of a frozen shoulder, you can use a steam room to relax your tense muscles and eliminate toxins like lactic acid that may be present in the affected area. 

For a frozen shoulder, it is recommended to spend no longer than 20 minutes at a time. A steam room’s temperature is usually between 100°F and 120°F and a humidity level of 100%. 

Using an infrared sauna to help a frozen shoulder

Infrared saunas emit infrared light with the use of infrared heaters. The surface of the skin absorbs the radiant heat from the heaters. Infrared saunas are known to be more effective in eliminating toxins through the skin than traditional saunas. 

The infrared light resulting from the heat penetration is vital in the treatment of a frozen shoulder. The light and heat from an infrared sauna are easily absorbed by the body and acts as healing energy. The heat and light absorbed deeply penetrate the muscles, joints, and tissues and help to repair any damages. 

The recommended course of treatment for a frozen shoulder with an infrared sauna can vary from four to seven times a week. The average infrared sauna session should last about 10 minutes for beginners and people with more delicate skin and between 20 to 30 minutes for experts.

An infrared sauna does not have humidity control like steam and rocks; hence it does not give a traditional sauna experience. The temperature range for an infrared sauna is between 120°F and 140°F.