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  • Olga V. Ways, DOM, AP Dipl. OM

Acupuncture for Shoulder Pain


Shoulder pain is one of the common health complaints that brings patients to our office for acupuncture. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint and has three main bones:

- the humerus (arm bone)

- the clavicle (collarbone)

- the scapula (shoulder blade)

Acupuncture for shoulder pain

They are cushioned by a layer of cartilage. The top ball shaped part of the humerus and the outer edge of the scapula make the shoulder joint.

Causes of shoulder pain

There are many factors that can contribute to shoulder pain. The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body and can become very painful when injured or diseased. In addition, the soft tissue around the joint tends to degenerate with age which explains why patients after 60 tend to have shoulder pain complaint more often. The rotator cuff which is made up of four tendons gives the shoulder the range of motion. Tendons connect muscles to bone and if swollen or damaged make it painful to lift up the arm over the head. The condition is know as rotator cuff tendinitis. Another common cause of shoulder pain is an impingement syndrome. In this case, the tendons of the rotator cuff and the subacromial bursa are pinched in the narrow space beneath the acromion. The pain is worse when the arm is raised away from the body. Shoulder impingement syndrome may develop as a result of injury, weakening in the rotator cuff muscle, or repetitive motions that lead to inflammation of the bursa. With age and the onset of the arthritis, the acromion may develop bone spurs that further narrow the space. If untreated, continued irritation cal lead to fraying and tearing further contributing to pain and discomfort. Other conditions, that cause shoulder pain are cervical nerve root impingement, typically from disc herniation or arthritis in the neck, frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), and supra scapular nerve entrapment.

Please note, that if shoulder pain is sudden and not related to injury, person should call a medical doctor immediately, since it may be a sign of a heart attack.

Western medicine treatment options for shoulder pain

Some of the traditional treatment options for the shoulder pain usually include physical or occupational therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, shoulder sling or immobilizer, or surgery.

How acupuncture can help shoulder pain

Acupuncture is a non-drug Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy and is being recommended more and more to treat shoulder pain, which is described as Qi and Blood stagnation in the tendons and muscles of the affected acupuncture meridian. Treatment is focused on promoting circulation, oxygenation, increasing blood flow to the area, decreasing inflammation, restoring range of motion, clearing heat and obstruction to relieve pain. Acupuncture Physician carefully assesses shoulders' range of motion, muscle strength and joint stability to use precise acupuncture points location for the maximum benefit. Acupuncture Physicians are trained in Western medicine anatomy and physiology to safely and effectively stimulate chosen acupuncture points and promote tissue healing effects. Shoulder treatment modalities also often include electrical stimulation of the needled area, distal points on the calf and wrist, suction cupping, gun she, acupressure or deep tissue laser therapy.

Acupuncture for pain in the shoulder

Treatment plan for shoulder pain acupuncture typically consists of 10 acupuncture treatment with the patient usually experience relief within 3-4 sessions.

If you want to speak with a Professionally Licensed Acupuncture Physician please call (941)773-1899 to find out how acupuncture can help you.

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