Adhesive capsulitis takes a long time to heal, so it’s natural to look for different ways to get better faster. As such, going on a frozen shoulder diet may be an unconventional yet effective solution.
This is because frozen shoulder has a component of low-grade inflammation. Reasonably, certain food groups containing anti-inflammatory properties can help fight it off, thus promoting recovery. (1)
In this article, I’ll discuss different types of diets and supplements to help frozen shoulder patients recover. Tap any of the bullets below to quickly jump into each section:
4 types of diet for frozen shoulder pain
1) Anti-inflammatory diet
This diet is characterized by consuming foods with anti-inflammatory properties. This in turn can provide pain relief in people with frozen shoulder syndrome.
These foods also contain antioxidants to help remove free radicals. They are by-products of your body processes that become harmful compounds when accumulated. (2)
Which foods are in an anti-inflammatory diet?
- Fish – tuna, salmon, and sardines.
- Vegetables – kale, spinach, broccoli, onions, and sweet potatoes.
- Spices – ginger and turmeric.
- Nuts – walnuts, pine nuts, and pistachios.
- Beans – pinto, red kidney, and garbanzo.
- Fruits and berries.
- Probiotic yogurt.
- Olive oil.
Which foods should I avoid?
When on an anti-inflammatory diet, keep away from (5):
- Refined carbs like white bread, and pastries.
- Processed and fried foods like french fries.
- Sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Saturated fats like butter or red meat.
- Trans fats like microwave popcorn or pizza.
2) Ketogenic diet
A ketogenic diet consists of eating high-fat, low-carbohydrate foods. This forces our bodies to use ketone bodies instead of glucose as a source of energy.
Normally, our body uses glucose as an energy source, storing the surplus. This storage process may lead to by-product enzymes which can make you prone to inflammation. (6)
So, by reducing the amount of glucose, the pro-inflammatory enzymes will decrease, thus helping with frozen shoulder.
Which foods are in a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet focuses on increasing the intake of (7):
- Saturated fats, like the fatty and processed parts of meat, lard, and butter.
- And unsaturated fats, like nuts, seeds, avocados, plant oils, and fish.
Which foods should I avoid?
To rip the benefits of this diet, you should drastically decrease your intake of (7):
- Refined starches like bread, cereal, pasta, or rice.
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn.
- Fruit juices.
- Beans and legumes.
3) Vegetarian diet
A vegetarian diet avoids food products from animal flesh, fish, shellfish, and crustaceans like lobsters and crabs.
Studies show that a 2-year vegetarian diet helps lessen inflammatory indicators in the body. (8) Researchers didn’t understand exactly why, but this can be due to the high intake of vegetables and fiber.
Which foods are in a vegetarian diet?
A vegetarian diet consists of (9):
- Vegetables and fruits.
- Grains, nuts, and seeds.
Some vegetarians consume eggs, dairy products, and honey. Others don’t, this depends on your personal preferences.
Which foods should I avoid?
These types of foods are not in-line with a vegetarian diet (9):
- Anything derived from animals – meat, poultry, seafood.
- Animal stock or fats.
4) Vegan diet
Going vegan is a stricter form of diet compared to vegetarian.
A vegan diet typically eats the same food groups as a vegetarian diet. The key difference is that with a vegan diet, animal by-products like eggs, milk, and honey are avoided.
Just like a vegetarian diet, it also lowers inflammation levels in the body. (10)
5 dietary supplements for your shoulder joint capsule
If you are having a hard time sticking to a certain diet, these next supplements might help protect your joint capsule from further damage:
Turmeric, also known as curcumin, has a very long history of medicinal use, dating back nearly 4000 years ago. (11) It is, among many others, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplement.
It’s available in powder form, where it’s usually mixed in a dish or drink, and in capsules. It’s generally safe in high doses of up to 4000 to 8000mg per day. (12)
2) Omega-3 fatty acids
This compound is mainly found in plant oils such as flaxseed and soybean. Also in oily fish, like mackerel, and sardines. It can also be taken in a soft-gel capsule mainly marketed as fish oil.
Research shows omega 3 fatty acids can decrease the intensity of joint pain, morning joint stiffness, and consumption of pain medication. (1)
The daily recommended dosage depends on your age and gender. For healthy adult males and females, 1.1g to 1.6g per day of omega 3 fatty acids is suggested. (13)
Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when given in adequate amounts, result in a health benefit for the host. (3) They are commercially available in yogurts, fermented cheese, and capsules.
Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are two key strains for anti-inflammation and gut health. They are widely used as probiotics in commercial, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical products. (3)
Like other supplements, dosage depends on your age. For adults, it is at 10 to 20 billion CFUs per day. (14)
Capsaicin is an active ingredient in chili peppers that makes your mouth burn. Ironically, it can also help relieve pain. (15)
Aside from chili peppers, there are capsaicin creams and ointments available that you can use directly on your shoulder.
Be extra careful when applying, though. It may cause a mild burning sensation early on before it numbs the pain.
5) Medicinal herbs
Herbs are plants with known medicinal effects. There are two examples of herbs used in Ayurveda, or Indian holistic medicine, that have anti-inflammatory properties.
First is Sallaki, also known as Indian frankincense. It works by inhibiting the processes that cause inflammation. (3)
The second is Ashwagandha, also known as Winter Cherry. It is rich in phytochemicals that also block inflammation-signaling pathways from developing. (3)
Both are available in their raw herb forms, powders, and capsules. Research is still ongoing on their proper dosage to fight inflammation.
What foods should you avoid with frozen shoulder?
Avoid foods that can lead to more inflammation. This includes refined carbs, processed foods, sugar-infused beverages, and foods high in fat. (5)
What is the fastest way to heal a frozen shoulder?
A corticosteroid injection is as close as you can get to minimally invasive and fast relief in frozen shoulder.
This may help: Top treatments for frozen shoulder.
What to avoid doing with a frozen shoulder?
Avoid moving your upper arm bone carelessly and in a jerky manner. This may strain not just your joint but your shoulder muscles as well.
Conclusion: Best diet for frozen shoulder
The main idea behind most diets for frozen shoulder is to lower your inflammation level and avoid frozen shoulder pain. This may be done by adding or removing certain food groups.
But at the end of the day, the best type of diet is the one you can maintain in the long run. So try and experiment with which one suits you best.
- Kraal, T et al. “The puzzling pathophysiology of frozen shoulders – a scoping review.” Journal of experimental orthopaedics vol. 7,1 91. 18 Nov. 2020, DOI: 10.1186/s40634-020-00307-w
- Srivastava, Kaushal K, and Ratan Kumar. “Stress, oxidative injury and disease.” Indian journal of clinical biochemistry : IJCB vol. 30,1 (2015): 3-10. DOI: 10.1007/s12291-014-0441-5
- Khanna, Shweta et al. “Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis with Dietary Interventions.” Frontiers in nutrition vol. 4 52. 8 Nov. 2017, DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2017.00052
- “Anti-Inflammatory Diet Do’s and Don’ts.” Arthritis Foundation. Accessed 18 April 2022. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/anti-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory-diet
- “Foods that fight inflammation.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. 16 November 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
- Goldin, Alison et al. “Advanced glycation end products: sparking the development of diabetic vascular injury.” Circulation vol. 114,6 (2006): 597-605. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.621854
- “Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet For Weight Loss.” The Nutrition Source. Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Accessed 18 April 2022. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet/.
- Haghighatdoost, Fahimeh et al. “Association of vegetarian diet with inflammatory biomarkers: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.” Public health nutrition vol. 20,15 (2017): 2713-2721. DOI: 10.1017/S1368980017001768
- “What is a vegetarian?” Vegetarian Society. Accessed 18 April 2022. https://vegsoc.org/info-hub/definition/
- Sutliffe, Jay T et al. “C-reactive protein response to a vegan lifestyle intervention.” Complementary therapies in medicine vol. 23,1 (2015): 32-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.11.001
- Prasad S, Aggarwal BB. Turmeric, the Golden Spice: From Traditional Medicine to Modern Medicine. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 13. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
- Hewlings, Susan J, and Douglas S Kalman. “Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health.” Foods (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 6,10 92. 22 Oct. 2017, DOI: 10.3390/foods6100092
- “Omega 3 fatty acids.”National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. 4 August 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
- Kligler, Benjamin, and Andreas Cohrssen. “Probiotics.” American family physician vol. 78,9 (2008): 1073-8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19007054/
- Saljoughian, M PharmD, PhD. “Capsaicin: Risks and Benefits.” US Pharm. 2009;34(7):HS-17-HS-18. https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/capsaicin-risks-and-benefits