Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is not a particularly common injury — it only affects about three percent of people — but it's still quite serious. It's important to know what you can do to remedy this condition so that, if you do experience it, it doesn't become debilitating.
If you don't like the idea of invasive treatments like surgery or steroid injections, there are lots of natural frozen shoulder remedies that you can try first. Five of the most effective remedies are listed below.
What is Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder occurs when the joint capsule (connective tissues that surround the shoulder bones, tendons, and ligaments) becomes thickened and tightens around the joint.
This condition is characterized by pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. This condition develops slowly and can be broken down into the following three stages:
Freezing stage: During this stage, any movement of the shoulder causes pain and range of motion becomes limited
Frozen stage: Pain begins to diminish, but the shoulder becomes stiffer and more difficult to use
Thawing stage: Range of motion begins to improve
Each stage typically lasts for several months.
What Causes Frozen Shoulder?
In many cases, there's not a clear cause of frozen shoulder. However, researchers have found that some people are more prone to frozen shoulder than others.
Some common risk factors of frozen shoulder include:
Age and sex: People over the age of 40 — especially women — are likely to experience frozen shoulder
Prolonged immobility or reduced mobility from rotator cuff injuries, fractures, or strokes
Systemic diseases like diabetes, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's disease, and tuberculosis
How to Treat Frozen Shoulder Naturally
These natural remedies can help you minimize the symptoms of frozen shoulder so you can reduce your symptoms and improve your mobility without side effects.
What better way to counteract something frozen than by adding heat?
Applying a warm compress to your shoulder, taking a hot shower, or soaking in a warm bath can help loosen up your muscles and reduce stiffness.
While you're applying heat, try to move your shoulder in small circles to keep blood flowing to the area.
Acupuncture is an eastern remedy that many people swear by for treating everything from pain and inflammation to digestive disorders and depression.
For people with frozen shoulder, acupuncture can promote relaxation and speed up the healing process.
Many people are intimidated by acupuncture and are worried about having needles stuck in their body. Remember, though, that the needles the acupuncturist uses are very thin. Most people don't feel anything when they're inserted.
You don't have to completely give up exercise and your favorite activities when you're dealing with frozen shoulder. In fact, it's important to keep moving so that you can keep inflammation in the shoulder down.
That being said, it's important to take steps to avoid making your symptoms worse.
If you're going to participate in exercise or some other kind of activity, be sure to wear a shoulder brace to prevent re-injury. Shoulder braces stabilize the joint and provide a bit of compression, which can improve blood flow to the injured area.
4. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation — also known as TENS — is a type of therapy that involves having tiny electrical currents delivered to specific points on the nerve pathways. If you try this therapy, you'll have small electrodes taped to the skin around your shoulder joint.
TENS therapy isn't painful or harmful. It simply stimulates the nerves and signals the release of endorphins to help minimize the discomfort that is caused by frozen shoulder. TENS therapy can also block the specific fibers that carry pain impulses.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
Finally, instead of relying on potentially damaging anti-inflammatory drugs, try using natural supplements that help reduce inflammation in the body.
Some of the best anti-inflammatory supplements include:
Omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish oil capsules)
Coenzyme Q10 (a natural antioxidant)
It's also good to consume anti-inflammatory, nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed beef, and wild-caught fish. Probiotic-rich foods and drinks like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi are also good to include.