Causes, symptoms and treatment for FROZEN SHOULDER

Causes, symptoms and treatment for FROZEN SHOULDER

image with details on frozen shoulder and ayurvedic massage oil for treatment of frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder affects 2-5% of the population. So is it really more common than you think? Well, the other startling statistic is that more than 50% of older diabetes patients complain of having frozen shoulder as per Research Gate. What is worse is that the treatment of frozen shoulder takes a long time. And in the meantime, it might affect the daily chores that one needs to perform. This ailment is more common in women than men and also affects more people above the age of 40.

What is frozen shoulder?

The shoulder is a unique ball and socket joint in our body formed by three bones; the shoulder blade (scapula), the collar bone (clavicle) and the upper arm (humerus). There is also a layer of tissues that holds this entire arrangement together. Lastly, for the smooth movement of the shoulder, a synovial fluid keeps the joint lubricated. When either the tissues are scared or the fluid is inadequate, the condition arising out of it is known as frozen shoulder. In this condition, the movement of the hand is restricted and trying to go beyond can cause excruciating pain. There are three stages that the ailment can be classified into:

1. Freezing

a) One starts developing pain in shoulder and sometimes the pain is severe depending on the extent of movement
b) It slowly begins to worsen and typically pains more in the nights
c) This stage can last anywhere between 6 weeks to 9 months
d) As time progressing, the range of motion keeps reducing


2. Frozen

a) The pain might get better but the stiffness gets worse
b) The range of motion is severely restricted making the movement for daily activities also difficult
c) This state can last from 4 months to 12 months


3) Thawing

a) This is when the shoulder movement starts becoming normal
b) The pain subsides and the range of motion improves
c) This stage can last from anywhere between 6 months to 2 years


What causes frozen shoulder?

Unfortunately, the real cause of frozen shoulder is unknown. Although there are conditions that make one prone to frozen shoulders. They are:

1) Limited mobility of the shoulder

Typically after a surgery or injury, the movement of the shoulder is restricted. This restricted movement allows the tissues to "freeze" thereby beginning the painful journey of frozen shoulder.

2) Diabetes

Amongst other medical conditions, diabetes is known to make one most prone to frozen shoulders. Like mentioned earlier, 50% of the diabetic patients complain of a frozen shoulder at some point in their lifetime

3) Other medical ailments

Other medical conditions is hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, Parkinson's disease, Tuberculosis and some cardio vascular ailments can lead to a frozen shoulder

How can one prevent frozen shoulder?

Since the exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown, the prevention becomes all the more challenging. Also, since frozen shoulder has been linked to multiple other medical conditions, taking care of the underlying conditions is a good way to prevent a frozen shoulder. Having said that, regular exercise of the shoulders is one way to keep the shoulder muscles and bones healthy and avoid getting a frozen shoulder. This is all the more critical to discuss with your doctor if you are undergoing a surgery that can restrict the movement of your shoulder or have any of the underlying condition.

What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder? What are the methods of treatment for frozen shoulder?

Pain in the shoulder and restrictive movement are the basic symptoms of frozen shoulder. When you visit a doctor, he / she will assess the level pain during the active range of motion i.e. ones own movement and the passive range of motion i.e. movement with the aid of the other hand or another person. The doctor may prescribe an X ray or MRIs. Typically these imaging procedures do not necessarily point out at one suffering from a frozen shoulder but help in ruling out other ailments like arthritis or torn rotor cuff.

Once confirmed, the doctor may follow one of the following course of treatment for the frozen shoulder.

1) Physical therapy

No matter what other course of treatment the doctor prescribes, physiotherapy will usually be a part of the treatment regime. Along with other treatments, physiotherapy can help recover quicker from the frozen shoulder.

2) OTC medications

While the OTC medications do not solve the core issue related to the frozen shoulder but help in temporarily alleviating pain

3) Corticosteroid injection

It is a strong anti-inflammatory injection given right in the shoulder that helps reduce the pain and improve the range of motion

4) Shoulder manipulation

Under the influence of general anaesthesia, the doctor will move the shoulder joint in different directions to help loosen the tightened tissues. This method is rare and has become obsolete with the invention of arthroscopy

5) Shoulder arthroscopy

Rarely would a doctor go to the extent of performing surgery for frozen shoulder. But if he / she decides in favour, this is the most common surgery to remove the scarred tissues from the joint. The doctor will insert a lighted, pencil sized tubular instrument through a small incisions made in the shoulder.

What does Ayurveda say about frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is known as Apabahuka. It mainly arises out of the Vata Dosha. While this is not mentioned in the Nanatmaja Vata Vyadhi (diseases that solely arise out of the Vata Dosha), Acharya Sushruta and others have considered it arising out of the Vata Dosha. After the onset, the stiffness of joints is attributed to the Kapha dosha. This is the reason why the frozen shoulder is worse at night. Ayurveda prescribes range of wholesome treatment for frozen shoulder; it includes massages and yoga (Swedana and Snehana), application of medicated oils in the nostrils to activate the brain cells (nasya karma) and bowel cleansing (Basti) to get the Vata Dosha under control. It also recommends the Ahar (food to be eaten - oils and ghee, moist food, oily foods and fruits) and Vihar (lifestyle changes - having a bath with warm water, doing yoga regularly, avoiding strain on the shoulders, avoiding AC rooms and cold places).

At The Good Herbs, we provide a solution to the pain in the form of our pain reliever i.e. Good 4 Joints, an ayurvedic massage oil for pain relief. Regular massage of the shoulder with warm oil helps in alleviating the pain instantly. What is even better is that it comes in a glass bottle that can be put in the microwave to heat causing no hassle. Continuous use along with Yoga and physiotherapy will help in the shoulder getting better sooner.

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