Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is an important joint and has the most mobility of all joints in the body. The shoulder is able to move forwards, backwards, and in a circular motion away from the body. There are many structural components that make up the shoulder and when one part is functioning improperly, it may cause pain and inability to move the joint. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint and is composed of 3 bones, the humerus, the clavicle, and the scapula. In addition to bones, the shoulder is also made up of cartilage, muscles and tendons. Some of the most common injuries of the shoulder include, rotator cuff injury and frozen shoulder.

The shoulder is an important joint and has the most mobility of all joints in the body. The shoulder is able to move forwards, backwards, and in a circular motion away from the body. There are many structural components that make up the shoulder and when one part is functioning improperly, it may cause pain and inability to move the joint. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint and is composed of 3 bones, the humerus, the clavicle, and the scapula. In addition to bones, the shoulder is also made up of cartilage, muscles and tendons. Some of the most common injuries of the shoulder include, rotator cuff injury and frozen shoulder.

Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff is what helps to give the shoulder its range of motion, and is a common site of injury. Made up of four tendons, the rotator cuff helps connect muscles to the bones. Injury of the rotator cuff may result in pain and the inability to freely move the joint. Rotator cuff tears are a common overuse injury and conventional treatment often means cortisone injections or even surgery. Acupuncture is also an effective treatment as an adjunct or alternative option to surgery. Trigger point needling is especially effective in the treatment of rotator cuff injuries as it helps to release knots within the muscle fibers, ultimately reducing pain and increasing blood flow to the area. Electric stimulation combined with acupuncture is often used for rotator cuff injury as it may help to stimulate muscle growth and healing.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is another common shoulder ailment. This condition is characterized by pain and loss of mobility in the shoulder joint and is caused by inflammation in the shoulder capsule. Acupuncture can help to reduce swelling and decrease inflammation in the joint. Acupuncture can also help to improve circulation, bringing vital blood to the area to help nourish the joint and surrounding tissues. In addition to acupuncture, gua sha is a very effective tool for treating frozen shoulder. Gua sha is a scraping technique used within Chinese medicine, which helps to break up adhesions within the fascia and muscle fibers that may be contributing to pain and impairment of range of motion. Tui na or Chinese massage and stretching is also an important modality in helping to improve mobility within the joint.

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Does acupuncture work for shoulder pain?

In the largest study to date of acupuncture in the treatment of shoulder pain (October 2010), it was found that there was a significant reduction in pain and improvement in range of motion following 3 months of treatment. The study reported: “65% response rate at 6 weeks compared with 24% with sham acupuncture and 37% with standard conservative orthopedic treatment…Chinese acupuncture is an effective alternative to orthopedic treatment of CSP” (chronic shoulder pain) (Cummings, 2010).”

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