Shoulder Pain





Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is a marvelous joint, and a pain in the butt. Fortunately for us, the complex structure of the shoulder joint allows for an incredible range of motion. We are able to move arms the way we do largely due to this flexibility. Unfortunately, the shoulder joint has relatively poor blood supply, so it is slow to heal when it is injured.


What are the different types of shoulder pain treated by acupuncture?


Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)

Connective tissue forms a “capsule” around the bones, ligaments, and tendons of the shoulder. If this capsule thickens or tightens, frozen shoulder can occur. The inflammation associated with frozen shoulder causes severe pain and restricted range of motion. Most of the time, there isn’t a cause of frozen shoulder, but it has been noticed that people with cervical spine (neck) injuries, diabetes, those who have had shoulder or open heart surgery, and hyperthyroidism are at an increased risk for frozen shoulder. The symptoms of frozen shoulder are ranged by stage:

     • Stage One (painful stage): pain with movement, decreased range of motion

     • Stage Two (frozen stage): less pain but more stiffness, further decrease in range of motion


Shoulder bursitis

Shoulder bursitis is inflammation of the bursa in the shoulder joint. Bursa are small sacs filled with fluid that cushion the joint and allow for smooth movement of the bone, tendons, and muscles. The causes of shoulder bursitis include injury, repetitive motion (athletics or manual labor) leading to inflammation. The symptoms of shoulder bursitis include pain with overhead activities, pain while sleeping at night, joint stiffness, swelling and redness. Pain from shoulder bursitis is often felt over the outside of the shoulder/upper arm.


Rotator cuff tendinitis

The rotator cuff refers to all the muscles and tendons in and around the shoulder that work to stabilize the shoulder joint. The four muscles of the rotator cuff are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis muscles keep the bone of the upper arm in the shoulder socket. Rotator cuff tendinitis is the swelling and inflammation of the tendons of these muscles. Some of the causes of rotator cuff tendinitis include overuse, especially through athletic (throwing sports, tennis) or other physical (overhead lifting) activities. The symptoms of a rotator cuff injury are pain at rest or at night, especially upon lying on the affected shoulder, pain when raising and lowering your arm in specific ways, weakness when lifting and turning your arm, noises in the shoulder joint when moving in certain ways.


Biceps tendinitis

The biceps muscle connects to the shoulder bones to the arm via tendons. When this tendon become inflamed, irritated, or torn, pain can result. The pain of biceps tendinitis is felt in the front of the shoulder. The causes of biceps tendinitis include overuse (especially due to overhead activities like swimming, tennis, and baseball) and an underlying rotator cuff injury. The symptoms of biceps tendinitis disorders include pain and swelling in the front of the arm.


Shoulder pain and  Acupuncture

In Chinese medicine Language, we say acupuncture promotes the circulation of Qi and Blood. Qi and Blood are the healing regenerative forces of the body. Free-moving Qi and Blood also stop pain. Regardless of what phrase the shoulder pain, acupuncture treats shoulder pain by invigorating the area, relaxing muscles and promoting healing and  improving circulation of shoulder.

Acupuncture treatments use both the local points (shoulder/arm) and distal points according to different shoulder pain condition.

Ashi or trigger points around the shoulder should be carefully sought and needled.

The acupoints chosen to treat frozen shoulder are often selected from those on the SI meridian, especially from SI-9 through SI-12, which run across the shoulder area. A key point is SI-12b at the attachment zone for the shoulder capsule.It is used to relieve disorders where there is shoulder pain accompanied by difficulty raising the arm, as it occurs with frozen shoulder. The elbow point LI-11 included in the above protocol is traditionally utilized for treating pain in the shoulder and arm, and it considered especially useful when the pain prevents the arm from being lifted.

During each acupuncture session, 4-6 points will be selected for treatment, with stimulation maintained by electro-acupuncture to anti-inflammation and release pain.

In certain condition, shoulder and upper arm is to be treated by cupping about 15 minutes after the needling is done, followed by a massage therapy with rapid motion of the palm against the arm and then shaking of the arm by holding at the wrist and lifting the arm to 90 degrees, then shaking with a downward pressure.













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