Ayurvedic Treatment in Kerala for Frozen Shoulder
UNDERSTANDING FROZEN SHOULDER
“If you don’t use it, you lose it” - this expression is perfect to explain frozen shoulder, a condition that often results from not using the shoulder joint and muscles for long i.e. keeping them immobile for a long time like in a sling or a cast. Frozen shoulder ( also known as adhesive capsulitis ) may begin as general shoulder pain but can progress rapidly to a stage where you cannot reach your back to fasten a garment or take the wallet from your back pocket. Life becomes difficult, because relief is seldom and short lived, pain is chronic, you can't lift your arms, you are not able to go about your routine and your personal, social and work lives are badly affected. The only options left seem to be invasive steroid injections, arthroscopic procedures or full-scale surgeries. Many patients opt for a course of ayurvedic treatment in Kerala at this stage. The truth is that, a course of ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for frozen shoulder that lasts around 15 to 28 days can bring your shoulder back to its normal state and could cure the condition forever, especially when treatment is taken in the early stages.
What is frozen shoulder?
Frozen shoulder means your shoulder hurts badly and you can't move it as you used to. All movements of the shoulder joint like flexion, extension, internal and external rotation are affected and compromised. It may start as a dull ache over the shoulder and you may find it difficult to take things from shelves above and notice restricted range of movements day by day, but if you just ignore it at this stage, the pain gradually progresses and makes your shoulder very very stiff as if it were frozen there. You may resort to alternate hot and cold packs and steroid medications or painkillers only to find that there is no considerable improvement.
What causes frozen shoulder?
The shoulder joint is held in place by strong connective tissue called the shoulder capsule. When the shoulder is not used and is kept immobile for long, following a fracture, stroke, surgery like mastectomy or any other chronic injury (like tendonitis, bursitis, rotator cuff injury etc.), the shoulder capsule contracts and also gets thick, stiff and inflamed. Bands of scar tissue called adhesions start to develop and, over time, the fluid (synovial fluid) which lubricates the joint also reduces in quantity. All these changes cause severe pain and stiffness leading to reduced range of movements of the shoulder joint. Although the exact reason is not known, certain disease conditions like diabetes, thyroid problems, Parkinson’s disease etc. also increase the risk of developing this condition. Ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder works effectively in almost all these cases.
When should you take ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for frozen shoulder?
You may plan your ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for frozen shoulder at any stage of the disease but it gives best results when taken in its early stages.There are 3 stages in frozen shoulder :
Freezing stage- where pain is most severe (especially at night) and there is progressive loss of shoulder movement. You will be able to move your shoulder joint though it may be limited due to pain and stiffness. This stage may last for 6 weeks to 9 months.
Frozen stage- where stiffness is most severe, with significantly reduced shoulder movements. Although in the beginning of this stage you may experience pain, it gradually decreases and towards the end of this stage, you may only feel the pain when you try to move the shoulder fully. This stage usually lasts 4 to 6 months.
Thawing stage- where all difficulties gradually lessen, with pain and stiffness experienced only during night. You may still have a limited range of movements but will mostly be able to go about your daily life normally. This stage may last for 6 months to 2 or more years.
The stages are important in treatment perspective as ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder is most effective when taken during the freezing stage.
AYURVEDIC TREATMENT FOR FROZEN SHOULDER
What is the approach adopted in the ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for frozen shoulder?
Ayurveda explains that the shoulder becomes painful and stiff when vata dosha in our body increases as a result of different environmental and lifestyle factors. (vata, pitta and kapha are the three doshas in our body that need to be in balance for us to enjoy health and wellness.) For instance, vata dosha could increase in the shoulder joint due to a sudden shoulder injury like in a motor vehicle accident or as the result of a chronic injury that happens with improper posture (especially sleep posture) over the years, immobilization during the recovery period after a surgery, regular consumption of vata dosha aggravating foods etc. Vata dosha has a drying effect, so when it increases out of control, it dries up the shoulder capsule including the fluid in the joint. It also causes an imbalance to kapha dosha (which normally resides in all joints) and thus causes pain and stiffness. Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for frozen shoulder aims to normalise the balance of doshas thereby relieving pain and stiffness and restoring the normal movements of shoulder joint.
How does ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder work?
Ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder aims to:
Relieve inflammation: If there is any inflammation, your treatment may start with anti-inflammatory rookshana therapies like podikizhi (massage with boluses of medicinal powders), valukaswedam (massage with sand boluses) or sometimes dhanyamla dhara that induce sweat and relieve inflammation.
Relieve pain and stiffness: The pain and stiffness you experience are the symptoms caused by increased vata. Aggravated vata is pacified with different oleation therapies like abhyanga (therapeutic oil massage), elakizhi (massage with boluses containing medicated leaves), pichu (local application of cotton pads soaked in medicated oils), upanaham (poultice application) etc. These therapies relieve stiffness and also help lubricate the shoulder joint.
Strengthen the shoulder joint: Another important aspect of ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder is strengthening the shoulder joint with some therapies like njavara kizhi and nasya (nasal medication). These therapies have a nourishing nature, stimulate the sensory nerve endings that relax muscles and strengthen the bones, tendons, muscles and connective tissues of the shoulder joint.
Restore the normal movements of shoulder joint: The range of movement of your shoulder joint will improve day by day with the therapies mentioned above. Along with this, various stretch exercises and yoga postures which help in increasing flexibility and restoring normal movements of the shoulder joint will also be advised by the physician. Apart from the external therapies, suitable internal medications to relieve inflammation, pain and stiffness will be prescribed in each stage.
How successful is the ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for frozen shoulder?
Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for frozen shoulder requires about 15 to 28 days of stay at an ayurveda hospital in Kerala depending on the stage and severity of your condition. Frozen shoulder is a disease where complete cure is possible with ayurvedic treatment. Ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder helps in releasing the adhesions of shoulder capsule, thereby restoring the normal range of movement of the shoulder joint and preventing recurrence. The no.of days of hospitalisation and the therapies required will be less when treatment is taken during the initial freezing stage. If treatment is taken during a later stage, complete cure may still be possible but with more extensive treatment. You can feel the difference in pain, stiffness and range of movement during the treatment course itself and can go back to your normal life once the treatment is completed. Taking ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder is important because if you ignore it thinking it will improve with time, you might end up with a shoulder joint with limited range of movements for the rest of your life.
AYURVEDIC DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE
What is the role of diet in the ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder?
Since pain, inflammation and stiffness in the shoulder are the result of increased vata dosha, the general dietary guideline in the ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder is to plan the diet with foods which will not aggravate vata dosha and instead pacify it. You may take dairy products including ghee, milk, buttermilk, yogurt etc as part of your daily diet as these will not aggravate vata and are nourishing in nature. Avoid dried varieties of legumes, lentils and pulses as they tend to increase vata dosha, but if you want to have it once in a while, cook it well with a little oil and spices like cumin, asafoetida, ajwain etc. as these will counteract their vata aggravating tendency. Fresh, homemade vegetable soup, chicken or mutton soup etc. which are warm and mildly spiced with black pepper are nourishing and good for you as these help in strengthening the joints. Avoid all canned, frozen and deep fried items as these will trigger inflammatory changes. In short, fresh, warm and mildly spiced home cooked food is the best for you. If you are concerned about any specific food items that you regularly use in your diet, talk to your treating physician before discharge from your ayurvedic center in Kerala.
What is the role of lifestyle in the ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder?
Staying away from all kinds of activities that aggravate vata dosha is the primary lifestyle guideline in the ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder. Vata aggravating things include improper sleeping habits, strenuous exercise, exposure to cold weather, chilled water etc. Avoid exposure to cold water and instead use hot water not just for drinking but also for all other purposes including hand washing laundry, doing the dishes etc. (or use a pair of gloves). Quit smoking and drinking habits as these will trigger inflammatory responses. Take your meals in time and exercise moderately, giving more importance to your shoulder joint. Make sure you mobilise the shoulder joint and do stretch exercises often during the day, whether you are at home or at work.
With its severity of symptoms, immobilizing effect and slow resolution, frozen shoulder can be a scary condition. The understanding behind ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder is that the condition is caused when vata dosha goes out of balance due to factors like sudden or chronic injuries from accidents or bad posture, long periods of immobilization etc. that results in inflammation and stiffening of connective tissue around the shoulder joint. Ayurveda treatment in Kerala for frozen shoulder aims to relax the muscles, relieve inflammation, release adhesions and restore dosha balance, thus relieving pain and enabling full range of motion of the shoulder joint. Depending on the stage and severity of the condition, you may be advised 15 to 28 days of inpatient treatment at an ayurvedic hospital in Kerala followed by discharge medicines to be taken at home for a prescribed period of time. External anti-inflammatory therapies, internal medicines, specific exercises, yoga postures as well as diet and lifestyle regulations form the different modalities used in the ayurvedic treatment for frozen shoulder in Kerala.
Can ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for frozen shoulder help me avoid arthroscopic surgery?
Surgery for frozen shoulder is usually suggested when no other treatments prove beneficial for you. Before opting for surgery, you may want to undergo ayurvedic treatment in Kerala as there is a good chance that it can avoid surgical intervention and you can enjoy a pain free life with a normal functioning shoulder joint. Share all your medical records with your ayurvedic physician as this will help them understand why surgery has been suggested and if it is possible to avoid it.
What are the chances of recurrence after undergoing frozen shoulder treatment in Kerala?
The chances are almost nil. You will be given some discharge medicines to take for a month or two. Take all those medicines as advised and follow the diet and lifestyle guidelines. This will ensure a pain free and flexible shoulder joint for life.