Ayurvedic treatment for Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder

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Frozen shoulder Ayurvedic treatment


Frozen shoulder is a condition where the shoulder seems to be frozen in its movements. This condition cause pain and stiffness in the shoulder and restricts any kinds of movements. Medically, this condition in also known as adhesive capsulitis or shoulder contracture.1

Frozen shoulder may be a sudden problem due to a trauma or it may slowly develop and get worse over time.1

In Ayurveda, the condition is described as Apabahuka and it most commonly affects the amsa sandhi (shoulder joint). Ayurveda categorizes it as a Vatapradhanavyadhi (Disease due to high involvement of vata) that causes pain in shoulder and severely restricts movements.2


Frozen shoulder


While the exact cause of frozen shoulder is not understood, it is believed to be caused due to a swelling of the joints covering called as capsule. This may happen due to long periods of immobility or trauma to the underlying nerve.1

There are some factors that increase your risk of getting a frozen shoulder. These include1:

  • Being a women
  • Age between 40-60 years
  • Having conditions such as diabetes and alcoholism


Frozen shoulder


Pain and joint stiffness are the cardinal and striking symptoms of frozen shoulder. Due to the pain, it becomes difficult to perform simple tasks such as driving, bathing, changing clothes, holding something etc. Many patients complain of sleep disturbance as well.1


Frozen shoulder


Your doctor will diagnose your frozen shoulder by taking your physical examination and checking for your pain and stiffness levels. Your doctor may also recommend some additional blood tests to find out if you have any underlying conditions that increase your risk for frozen shoulder, such as diabetes.1

Moreover, your doctor may recommend some additional imaging tests to confirm your frozen shoulder and check for arthritis and join deterioration. These include:1

  • CT scan – imaging test that uses x-rays to take multiple images of the shoulder
  • X-Ray – to detect the exact location of your frozen shoulder and find out whether there has been some other damage to your shoulders
  • MRI scan – common imaging technique that takes multiple images of the soft tissues around your frozen shoulder


Frozen shoulder


To manage your frozen shoulder, an appropriate pain management therapy along with a physical therapy to improve range of motion is important.1

For pain management, painkillers to relieve the frozen shoulder pain are recommended. These include oral medicines like paracetamol and in some cases, corticosteroid injections. Physical therapy becomes very important in the later stages of the condition when there is debilitating pain and stiffness felt. Physical therapy would normally include shoulder exercises, physiotherapy techniques, massages, etc.1

In very serious cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. This is especially done when other treatments for frozen shoulder fail to work after six months.1

Ayurveda recommends a general line of treatment for all frozen shoulder. These include2:

  • Snehana (oleation) – administering ghee, herbal oil, animal fat or bone marrow to expel the imbalanced dosha out of the body
  • Swedana (fomentation) – application of hot, moist substances to heal pain
  • Basti (enema) – bowel cleansing technique
  • Nasya karma (application of medicated oil in the nostrils)
  • Ayurveda recommends some oils like Mahanarayana taila, Vishagrabha taila, Bala Taila, Prasaranyadi taila for external application.

Additionally, Ayurveda also recommends a combination of healthy diet (ahar) and lifestyle changes (vihar) in order to manage the condition effectively. These include:2

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

Consume diet that reduces vata dosha in the body. This includes easily digestible foods and moist & oily foods.2 Examples are:

  • Oils and ghee
  • Moist foods like berries, melons and curd
  • Soups and stews
  • Oily foods like avocado, coconut, olives, buttermilk, cheese, eggs, milk, wheat, nuts and seeds

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)


  • Get adequate rest
  • Warm water bath is advised.
  • Avoid straining your shoulder
  • Perform mild exercises to improve the mobility of your shoulders
  • Avoid A/C rooms
  • Avoid cold water bath
  • Practice yogasanas regularly. Some asanas that can help include:

Garudasana                      Paschim namaskarasana             Dhanurasana


Frozen shoulder
  1. What is Osteoarthritis? How is it caused?

Osteoarthritis refers to a type of bone and joint problem in which a person suffering from it will have pains in joints. This happens due to the wearing down of the protective cartilage on the bones due to age or other factors. While any joint in the body can have osteoarthritis, usually it happens commonly in the joints of knees, hips, spinal column and hands.

Osteoarthritis is caused due to damage of the cartilages of the ends of the bones. This damage generally occurs due to multiple factors primarily being increasing age. Apart for age, the other factors that cause the damage to cartilage are Obesity, female gender and trauma to the joint.

  1. What is Rheumatoid arthritis? How is it different from osteoarthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) refers to an auto immune disorder where the body’s defense systems turn against the body and mainly affect the joints but may also severely affect the eyes, skin, lungs, heart and blood vessels. It generally manifests as pain in the joints along with swelling and difficulty in movements.

Unlike osteoarthritis which affects the weight bearing joints, RA affects any and most joints of the body. It generally presents with swelling (hot swollen joints) as a cardinal feature and also shows some systemic manifestations (such as affects the eyes, skin, lungs, heart etc) unlike OA.

  1. What is osteoporosis? How is it recognized?

Osteoporosis refers to the condition where the bone becomes weak. Instead of the strong tissue that support the body structure, bones become brittle from inside and are capable of breaking with a minor jerk or fall. This leads to fractures in the hands, hips and legs with minor falls or injuries.

It can be recognized based on specific signs and symptoms and a BMD test. Symptoms are as follows -

  • Easily having a bone fracture
  • Pain in the back
  • Height becomes lesser than usual
  • A dropping posture
  1. What first aid should I offer to a person with a fracture?

If you witness a person developing fracture, take these actions immediately -

  • Urgently call for medical help or arrange for an ambulance
  • Stop any bleeding if there is an open wound. This can be done by applying pressure with a clean cloth or tight bandaging.
  • Avoid moving the injured area.
  • Apply ice packs to the injured part
  • If the person faints of is short of breath, put their head at a lower side and legs at a higher angle
  1. How does one know if a child has rickets?

The signs and symptoms of rickets are as follows –

  • Crooked or bow shaped legs
  • Thick joints of hands and feet
  • Protruded chest bone
  • A delay in growth milestones
  • Muscular weakness
  1. How does one have a dislocated joint?

Dislocations are usually caused due to a trauma or as a sports injury. Falls associated with contact sports such as football, basketball etc can lead to a dislocation.

Additionally, a fall on the outstretched hand and trauma due to a motor accident, too can cause dislocation.

  1. What is a Tennis elbow? How is it caused?

Tennis elbow refers to the pain in elbow due to swelling of the tendons which may occur due to repetitive movements of the wrists. Unlike the name suggests, the condition affects non-athletes as well.

It is caused due to overuse of the tendons resulting in a muscle strain injury. Any activity that requires repeated motions of the elbow and wrists can cause tiny injuries in the tendons leading to tennis elbow.

  1. What is frozen shoulder and how is it caused?

Frozen shoulder refers to a condition where the shoulder seems to be frozen in its movements. This condition cause pain and stiffness in the shoulder and restricts any kinds of movements. Medically, this condition in also known as adhesive capsulitis.

While the exact cause of frozen shoulder is not understood, it is believed to be caused due to a swelling of the joints covering called as capsule. This may happen due to long periods of immobility or trauma to the underlying nerve.

  1. How does a hip get fractured?

Generally hip fractures can be caused because of a trauma due to accident, falls, injuries or rarely violence. Hip fracture is very common in the elderly as it often happens due to a fall from height or sometimes even with twisting of the foot in people with weak bones. Younger people often have hip fracture as an outcome of a motor vehicle accident.

  1. What is meant by slipped disc?

A slipped disc refers to the swelling in the cushion between two bones, most commonly the vertebra (individual bones of the spine). This cushion is supposed to provide mobility and flexibility to the spine. This cushion between the vertebra is called as a disc and is filed with a gel like substance that provides the flexibility.

Slipped disc is the swelling of this disc which causes pain and obstructs mobility of the spine. A swelling in the cushion leads to some of the gel in the disc to protrude out between the bones.


Frozen shoulder
  1. NHS Choices. Frozen Shoulder. Available at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Frozen-shoulder/Pages/Introduction.aspxaccessed Sept 20th 2016
  2. Das B et al. A study on Apabahuka (frozen shoulder) and its management by Laghumasha taila nasya. Ayu. 2010 Oct-Dec; 31(4): 488–494.

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