We often see people come to treatment for shoulder pain. A large portion of the population suffers from some type of shoulder pain. In most cases, the pains are minor and involve mostly soft tissues; muscles and tendons, but in some cases they originate from a deeper problem or injury. Chinese acupuncture may help with healing of the shoulder, restoring and improving range of motion, reducing the inflammatory process, and relieving pain. In combination with cupping therapy and the customisation of personal exercises at home improves the results significantly.

The shoulder is a central joint in the body, consisting of a bony structure, tendons, muscles, ligaments and nerves. Almost every movement of the torso (one can say - any movement of the body) involves the shoulder joint in one way or another, so a shoulder restriction can affect a wider function of the whole body.

Our lifestyle - which includes, for the most part, prolonged sitting and a lack of exercise (or alternatively, excess exercise), causes an overload of the joints, and especially the shoulder joint, which can lead to various injuries. Injury which can in turn, lead to inflammation of the shoulder joint.

Shoulder Massage
The most common shoulder injuries include:
  • Rotator cuff - tearing, stretching, or shortening of the group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder, causing discomfort and pain, can lead to a condition affecting the entire arm. Weakness of these muscles can also limit and damage them.

  • Shoulder tendon rupture (supraspinatus, infraspinatus) - tendons help with shoulder movements, and any injury to them can lead to severe pain and restriction of movement.

  • Shoulder impingement - usually occurs as a result of degenerative changes in the bony structure of the shoulder, causing them to "pinch" the tendons when the arm is raised. This injury causes a severe restriction of movement since at some point it is simply impossible to raise your hand, and if the problem is chronic and not properly treated, injury can be long lasting.

  • Shoulder dislocation - as a result of significant trauma (or extreme over-elasticity) the arm bone (the humerus) may come out. After the bone is returned into place (by a medical professional) in most cases, pain and limitation remain for a prolonged period. Because the discharge causes tension (and even tearing) of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles, the joint in many cases, is not as stable as before the injury and the area is subject to further dislocations.

  • "Frozen shoulder" - also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterised by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. In most cases, the cause is unknown. Symptoms gradually get worse and if left untreated can become considerably debilitating.

  • Labrum rupture (SLAP) - a typical injury in athletes resulting from a fall with a shoulder strain. The labrum is a type of tissue that helps the arm bone to attach to the socket in the shoulder joint.

  • Bursitis – inflammation of the fluid filled pads (bursae) that act as cusions in the joint.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (rheumatism) in the shoulder - results from an internal inflammatory process, the joint and bones are injured.

Shoulder pains may appear in several locations, depending on the location of the injury affecting the front, back, arm, neck and other adjoining areas of the body.

Movement restriction, if any, can also cause pain in various places. Some movements can cause the pain to refer up the neck or down into the arm and hand.

Acupuncture Session
Acupuncture for shoulder pain

As mentioned, acupuncture may help reduce shoulder pain and shoulder problems on several levels:

Pain Reduction – when accurately diagnosed and treated, acupuncture may be effective in reducing pain levels.

Reducing inflammatory processes - it is important to note that inflammation is a western medical definition and not a Chinese one, so when we reduce the pain, in most cases there will be a decrease in the inflammatory process as well.

Improving range of motion - As the pain decreases and the movement of Qi and Blood to the area improves, the range of motion of the shoulder will also increase. Of course if there is a structural problem, the improvement in range of motion will be limited as we cannot restore bone structure.  When limited range of movement results from soft tissue problems, results tend to be more favorable and movement can be restored.

Acupuncture is a great instrument in accelerating the body’s own healing ability. We support you in the process and help you get back to what you love doing without pain or limitation.