Acupuncture May Unlock Frozen Shoulder SyndromeOur joint system is an integral, everyday set of essential tools often taken for granted. The lower portion experiences the brunt of weight bearing activity while the upper half continues to twist, turn, lift, push and pull throughout the day. Among the many afflictions these joints can fall prey to, frozen shoulder is a painful, limiting condition.

Technically called adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder may affect those who have experienced extensive inactivity due to surgery or disease such as diabetes, thyroid complications or a mastectomy. Adhesive capsulitis is the term which describes the shoulder malfunction meaning capsule inflammation and/or thickening causing continued reduction and pain of normal range of motion (ROM) movement. Frozen shoulder can also be the result of trauma due to an accident; work related repetitive use syndrome (RUS); or injury and sometimes even a structural anomaly.

The Mayo Clinic describes the symptoms of frozen shoulder as:

  • Freezing stage – Any movement of your shoulder causes pain, and your shoulder’s range of motion starts to become limited.
  • Frozen stage – Pain may begin to diminish during this stage. However, your shoulder becomes stiffer, and using it becomes more difficult.
  • Thawing stage – The range of motion in your shoulder begins to improve.

Conventional treatment consists of corticosteroid injections, numbing medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, or surgery. However, more people are turning to alternative remedies such as acupuncture, before succumbing to medications or invasive surgery.

After about a six week protocol, acupuncture may unlock frozen shoulder syndrome naturally. At the same time it may enable stronger, supportive surrounding musculature tissue and ligaments to prevent future occurrences.

50-Years Shoulder
During the 20th Century, Chinese acupuncturists would refer to frozen shoulder as “50-years shoulder” or Wushi Jian. This was a reference to the median age patients would suffer from this ailment. Earlier references can be found in work done by French physician E.S. Duplay in 1872.

If you are in your late 40’s to early 50’s and experiencing symptoms such as shoulder tightness, pain, and limited movement you may have 50 years shoulder. However, it is important to determine whether one has a frozen shoulder or a torn rotator cuff as both present similarly.

Acupuncture is capable of treating both, however the point references may be different. Therefore, before using acupuncture, it is recommended to either get a conventional MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) diagnosis or visit an acupuncturist who is also a naturopathic doctor versed in osteopathic conditions. This way, proper treatment can be administered at the onset.

The One Stop Point
In 1991 the Journal of Chinese Medicine reported of how acupuncturist Zhang Maohai claimed to “cure” frozen shoulder by needling only one point, Gall Bladder (GB) 34. Interestingly this point is located on the leg (just above the lateral fibula head) and not where one would expect treatment. Only the leg of the affected shoulder side would be needled which, Maohai claims, worked almost every time. In the rare case it did not take, the other leg would be treated as well.

Another practitioner named Feng Zhengen used the same method as Maohai but added a point on the opposite hand known as Large Intestine (LI) 3. LI-3 is located in the webbing between the thumb and index finger. The patient would gently move the affected arm during this treatment.

Zhengen reported that,

“…of 210 patients treated, 158 cases were resolved, and that all but 12 cases showed some improvement.”

These treatments have been followed and/or improved upon by acupuncturists versed in either Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). However, CCM delves deeper into specific root causes beyond the many inconsistencies of TCM.

A Combined Affect
If you are attending physical therapy for your frozen shoulder, acupuncture may be a helpful addition.

In a combined physical therapy with acupuncture study by researchers at the China Medical University, published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, it was found that,

“Pain was controlled better by acupuncture while ROM improved following physical therapy. However, patients treated by both methods had the best outcome. The integration of acupuncture and physical therapy to treat frozen shoulder leads to a better outcome than using only one method.”

More Weigh In
Using acupuncture for frozen shoulder syndrome either alone or in conjunction with other therapies maintains beneficial results across the board.

Acupuncture Today reports that,

“…a study, published in the Hong Kong Medical Journal, found that patients treated with acupuncture and exercise demonstrated “significantly greater improvement” on shoulder assessment tests than those using just exercise, and suggests that acupuncture could be useful in cases where more conventional therapies have been unsuccessful.”

These studies have been particularly true for patients not responding to conventional medical treatments for frozen shoulder.

By utilizing a weekly acupuncture protocol along with additional CCM therapies such as botanical medicine, homeopathy, nutraceutical supplementation, clinical nutrition and detoxification your frozen shoulder may remedied. At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you. In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health.  To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or CLICK HERE to schedule an online appointment.

*Please CLICK HERE to see a current list of Insurance Companies that commonly carry acupuncture benefits for its members. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.

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