Frozen Shoulder Causes Symptoms Stages Treatment

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Frozen Shoulder Causes Symptoms Stages Treatment

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Frozen shoulder, is a painful condition of the shoulder joint, characterized by pain and stiffness and the affected arm becomes immovable completely and it is described by the term adhesive capsulitis.

Overview of Frozen Shoulder

Studies have shown that

  • near about 2-3% population in the world is suffering from frozen shoulder nowadays.
  • Women are more effective than men
  • Affecting age is 40 to 60 years commonly.
  • Some people may experience severe pain at night disrupting sleep

Frozen Shoulder-Signs and Symptoms

It begins gradually, gets worse over time and then resolves usually within 1 to 3 years.

Symptoms the characteristics of frozen shoulder

  • Active movement pain history in frozen shoulder
  • Shoulder painful in most of the directions and also by passive movement
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The frozen shoulder needs to be clearly diagnosed as it may be intermingled with other problems like tendon tears, muscle ruptures or hairline bone fractures.

For example, This can be confused by tendon tear after rotator cuff in which there is limited at the active moment movement but moments are possible.

Risk of developing frozen shoulder increases with some medical conditions or some procedures that hamper you from moving arm, such as mastectomy, a fracture or a stroke.

They are not clear factors that why it happens to some people, but the incidence of occurrence is in the persons having diabetes or who recently had surgery or fracture in arm thus immobilization of shoulder.

The main risk factors causing stiffness may include

Risk factors for frozen shoulder

  • Age
  • 40 and older
  • Sex
  • particularly women are likely to have it.

Immobilization or reduced mobility factor

  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Recovery from surgery
  • Fracture arm
  • Stroke
  • cervical disc disease
  • immobilization of shoulder injury.

Systemic disease factor for frozen shoulder

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There are certain diseases that appear to develop frozen shoulder risk.
these may include

  • Hypothyroidism
  • hyperthyroidism
  • diabetes
  • Cardiac disease
  • Tuberculosis

Prevention of Frozen Shoulder

As we have seen the most common cause of frozen shoulder is the immobility of the joint that may occur, while recovering from a shoulder injury, fracture or Stroke,

It can be prevented by following an exercise routine to maintain a range of motion in the shoulder joint.

Friends, I know that the frozen shoulder is a devastating disease resulting in many daily routine restrictions and making the person dependent on some other for some particular postures like combing, dress changing, etc.

The good news about the frozen shoulder is that it can get better on its own, within 12 months to 18 months and with the help of some exercises at the right stage, it results in improving mobility function. even some people recover without regular therapy.

It’s always my try to advise people that the recovery will take some time with but it will be fine helping with exercises so that the problem will recover soon.

But the bad news is it can take its own time, lasting from 1 to 3 years with full recovery or in some cases may have some residual stiffness of the shoulder.

Symptoms of frozen shoulder

Symptoms appear gradually in three stages and each stage can last for a few months.

Freezing stage

It is the first stage in which any movement of the shoulder can cause pain and the shoulders range of motion starts to become Limited.

in this condition, it is more resistant to treatment or exercise and the shoulder will get sore if we will forcefully try to stretch our mobilized it.

Frozen stage

In this stage, pain may begin to lessen but shoulder may remain stiff.

as shoulder freezes and becomes less painful, moving it within the available range will be possible without forceful act.

Thawing stage, recovering phase

This is the last stage where the range of motion in shoulder begins to improve.

causes of shoulder stiffness

To understand the causes, lets, first discuss the anatomy of the shoulder

Anatomy of the shoulder

Frozen Shoulder

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket type of joint where three bones come together to make a shoulder girdle.

  • Humorous that is upper arm bone
  • Scapula that is shoulder blade
  • Clavicle that is collar bone

The ligaments and tendons that are attached to the shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue.

This capsule thickens around the shoulder joint, it restricts its movement, causing frozen shoulder, thereby, the name adhesive capsulitis.

Frozen Shoulder as described in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda frozen shoulder is caused by increased Vata dosha, it is called apbahuka in Ayurveda.

In Ayurveda 80 types of vata nanatamaj Roga are described that is caused by vitiated Vata dosha.

One of them is apbahuka, which can be correlated with the frozen shoulder.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder According to Ayurveda

these are described as:-

External causes

  • Excessive exposure to wind or air conditioner causing Vata Dosha vitiation
  • Any injury to Marmas i. the vital parts of the body surrounding the shoulder joint.

Internal Causes

  • Diets and activities that can aggravate Vata dosha
  • Intake of excess pungent, bitter and astringent taste food.


In Ayurveda, apbahuka is described as a pure Vata dosha, where vitiated Vata dosha absorbs the fluid i.e. Kafa, from the joint, making it stiff.

Why does shoulder pain worsen at night for frozen shoulder patients?

It’s a very common complaint as asked by my patients of frozen shoulder, that their pain aggravates in the night while sleeping.

Their complaints are

  • It hurts, no matter at which side you try to sleep.
  • pain worsens when you shift from one side to another.
  • Pain may also worsen by raising the arm


The shoulder joint is one of the most flexible joints of the body, allowing the movements in all directions.

In the frozen shoulder, there are adhesions in the capsule of the joint, causing restrictive movements, so while sleeping, this joint may be painful due to overuse of it, unknowingly.

Also, pain can worsen due to pressure effects while sleeping.

Diagnosis in frozen shoulder

Usually, frozen shoulder can be diagnosed by signs and symptoms,

But there is also the need for a physical examination to differentiate it from some muscle tear or tendon stretch

Physical examination is done in certain ways to check for pain and get the evaluation of the range of motion.

There may be a need for some imaging tests like X rays or MRI to rule out care for fracture or some other problem.

Treatment of frozen shoulder Naturally

In Ayurveda treatment of any ailment is done by understanding the cause of illness, the nature of the person and complication of disease if any

For Frozen shoulder, Ayurveda aims as treating the pain and stiffness and preserving the mobility of the shoulder joint.

In this case, Ayurveda treatment aims to bring vitiated Vata Dosha in equilibrium and in result, relieving the stiffness.

So it is treated by both with Ayurveda medicines and therapies that include ayurvedic diet and exercise.

Therapies and medicines may vary from person to person according to the severity of the ailment.

The duration of treatment may vary from 7 to 21 days depending upon the severity of the frozen shoulder along with oral medications for 2 to 3 months.

The line of Treatment For Frozen shoulder

It’s as under:-

Snehana or Abhyanga or medicated massage

General massage of the affected shoulder is done with medicated oil from the back of the neck to shoulder girdle to the tip of the arm.

Swedana or Sudation

After the massage of the affected part, steam is given to that part, which helps to stimulate the nerve endings. and, also, improves blood circulation.

Some other Ayurveda treatments include

  • Patra Pind Swed
  • Churna Pind Swed
  • Shashtika Shali Pind swed

The aim of all these therapies is to reduce Vitiated Vata Dosha

This treatment is done for at least 7 to 14 days regularly to relieve the stiffness and increases the range of motion.

Ayurveda Medicines are also used along with this therapy aiming to reduce pain and inflammation.

Some commonly used medicines are

  • Yog Raj guggul
  • Keshoradi Guggul
  • Vishmushti Vati
  • Tab Rumalya
  • Mahanarayan Tail
  • Dash Moolarisht.
  • But these medicines should be taken by Doctor’s advice.

Other Commonly Used Treatments

It also involves controlling shoulder pain and preserving the range of motion in the shoulder as much as possible.

Read more,


Some anti-inflammatory medicines can help reducing pain and inflammation associated with frozen shoulder


With the help of a physiotherapist some range of motion exercises can be practice to help is to recover as much mobility in Shoulder as possible.

Surgical and other therapies

Mostly frozen shoulder can get better on their own within 12 to 18 months but if there is persistent symptoms can be

Steroid injection

Where corticosteroids are injected into the shoulder joint to help decrease in pain and improve shoulder mobility

Shoulder manipulation

Here, under general anesthesia manipulation of the shoulder joint is done in different directions to help loosen the tightened tissue.

Joint distension

In some cases injecting sterile water into the joint capsule can help to stretch the tissue and make it easier to move the shoulder joint.


She is very rare for the frozen shoulder but in the last case of no improvement, it can be done to remove scar tissue and adhesions from inside the shoulder joint.


Friends, as we have gone through a very common problem of the shoulder joint, cause symptoms, stages, diagnosis, and treatment, in detail.

So now, we have come to this conclusion that frozen shoulder is a self-limiting disease, but we can help out with the help of a few medications, therapies and exercises to make the recovery fast and reduce the symptoms to ease the patient, so that they can perform his or her daily activities without any Hustle bustle.

Also here my advice is, to have patience and undergo gradually its course going on without any surgical or injectable intervention.

Gentle massage, Limited anti-inflammatory medicines, and a few gentle exercises and yoga can help to recover your problem in a healthy way.

In the next article, I will discuss some effective yoga exercises for frozen shoulder.

Friends, this was all about, Frozen Shoulder Causes Symptoms Stages Treatment.

I hope you will like this information. Feel free to ask any query by mail at

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DrSeema Gupta
I am an Ayurvedic Doctor, serving humanity through Ayurveda an Ancient System of Medicine from the last 21 years, by advising Ayurveda principles and healing the ailments. I follow the principle that prevention is always better than cure.

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