Managing Frozen Shoulder with Ayurveda

Managing Frozen Shoulder with Ayurveda

Practitioner Highlight Shoulder Pain

Managing Frozen Shoulder with Ayurveda

By Linda Rowe, Ayurvedic Practitioner


Ayurveda is an excellent choice for addressing the pain associated with Frozen Shoulder. Generally, this condition starts off with pain and stiffness, which results in a dry joint that feels constricted. The pain and stiffness can start in the upper back and encompass the whole upper body to the shoulder joint, including the neck. There’s a gradual loss of movement in the shoulder joint and movement becomes severely limited.

The pain, stiffness and joint immobility can happen anywhere in the body, not just the shoulder, but also in the jaw, low back, and cervical spine. Ayurveda refers to Frozen Shoulder as Apabāhuka, and there are two types. One type is associated with dry inflammation and is primarily a vata condition with a racing or moving sensation. The second type is associated with moist inflammation caused by kapha or ama blocking the movement of vata and the pain stays in one localized area.

Causative Factors for Frozen Shoulder

  • Injury
  • Overuse or repetitive movement, office jobs, physical labor, etc.
  • Diabetes or stroke
  • Secondary condition caused by rheumatoid arthritis or degenerative disorders
  • Excess bitter and astringent foods
  • Exposure to wind and cold
  • Incorrect sitting or sleeping position
  • Excess foods or activities that aggravate vata

Avoid Activities that Increase Vata Aggravation     

  • Cold showers or baths
  • Excess use of air conditioning
  • Excess oily and fried foods
  • Heavy or even moderate exercise
  • Improper sitting or sleeping positions

Diet and Lifestyle Activities that BalanceVata Aggravation

  • Improve your digestion by using spices, ginger, black pepper, cumin
  • All meals should be cooked, warm and moist
  • Use turmeric and black pepper for anti-inflammatory support
  • Do slow gentle and restorative movement like yoga or walking
  • Nadi shodana (breathing exercises that reduce stress)
  • Warm baths with epsom salt

Each of the two types of Frozen Shoulder has a different approach toward healing. The pure vata type requires nourishment through oils and the blocked vata/kapha type requires first drying up the excess kapha or ama, then nourishment through oil.

Products for External Support

We need to put the lubrication back in the body to relieve pain and oils produce the best results. Oils with heating properties will break down the calcification and help the blocked vata move. There are a few Ayurvedic oils that are especially helpful for the pain, stiffness and inflammation associated with Frozen Shoulder: Prasarani Oil, Kottamchukkadi Oil, Maha Narayana, and Dhanwantaram Oil.

Herbal pastes, known as Lepams, are another effective way to support Frozen Shoulder. Jatamayadi Churnam (external paste) and Kottamchukkadi Churnam (external paste) are powders thar are mixed into a paste and applied to the affected area; they are helpful for relieving pain and swelling.

Products for Internal Support

  • Prasaranyadi Kwatham balances vata dosa and is mainly used to support joint pain and musculoskeletal disorders. This product has natural analgesic and relaxant properties and helps with frozen shoulder, cervical spondylosis, and headaches.
  • Rasnairandadi Kwatham pain and stiffness located in the back and neck pain, flanks, and jaw.

Ayurvedic Body Therapies

  • Abhyanga is a medicated warm oil massage and normally steam therapy is given right after the massage. This therapy is especially effective for relieving stiffness.
  • Pizhichil is streaming of hot oil, along with simultaneous massage.
  • Elakizhi is an herbal poultice prepared with vata balancing herbs such as Castor leaves, Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Dashamoola, Devadaru which are tied in a cloth and dipped in warm herbal oil and applied over the shoulder joints.
  • Njavarakizhi is especially useful in degenerative conditions. First Abhyanga (oil massage) is done, and then a rice pack made from cloth is dipped in prepared kashayam and is applied over the affected area of the shoulder.
  • Podi Kizhi is a mixture of herbal powders tied in cloth linen bags and dipped in oil and applied over shoulder joint.
  • Pichu cotton bags are soaked in warm herbal oils and applied to the affected shoulder joints.
  • Either a single or a combination of above therapies is used in Ayurvedic treatment of frozen shoulder.

Meet the Author

Linda Rowe, Ayurvedic Practitioner


Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kottakkal Ayurveda products and this information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute, or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at and we will provide you with one of our affiliated Ayurvedic professionals. Check with your doctor before taking herbs when pregnant or nursing.
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