Acupuncture For Frozen Shoulder
Have you ever rolled out of bed in the morning only to realize that your shoulder muscles are not working properly? Now, imagine this has been going on for months or years. Then, add in a nagging, achy pain that wakes you up at night and prevents you from being active. These symptoms can mean you have a frozen shoulder, which is sometimes called adhesive capsulitis.
The experience of searching for frozen shoulder solutions can be challenging. There can be the frustration and shame of having to depend on others to help with small tasks. Some things patients frequently mention are putting on a shirt, getting something from a high cupboard, having difficulty with exercise, or being active.
As the condition progressed, our patients had to give up biking, lifting weights, and other activities they used to enjoy. Many of them chalk it up to “getting old” and think they might be stuck this way forever. They are often surprised to hear there are things you can do to speed up the normal healing time of a frozen shoulder, which can take up to 2-3 years on its own.
What is a Frozen Shoulder?
While many cases of frozen shoulder begin with an injury to the shoulder joint such as inflammation of a tendon or a fracture, this is just the beginning of what can sometimes be a long process. The real problem begins when the patient begins to use their shoulder less frequently due to pain.
The shoulder joint is like a performance car. If you drive it and do regular maintenance, the vehicle can run well for years. Problems start to come up when the vehicle sits unused. Fluids thicken and congeal, and joints seize up. The same concept is valid with a frozen shoulder.
Frequent pain makes shoulder movement difficult, which leads to inactivity. Months of avoiding shoulder movement limit blood flow into this joint and cause the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint to thicken, contract, and lose its ability to stretch. The bones that pivot in this joint become crammed into a smaller space, and the lubricating synovial fluid can be affected. In advanced cases of frozen shoulder, there is a decreased range of motion, stiffness, pain, and sometimes scar tissue and adhesions.
Can acupuncture help with a frozen shoulder?
Acupuncture has proven to be an effective therapy for improving range of motion and decreasing pain levels. One controlled clinical trial in 2016 reports significant positive improvements with acupuncture therapy performed over three months. Researchers say that “implementation of acupuncture causes a tremendous improvement of shoulder movements, but the improvement was more significant with flexion and abduction movements. Therefore, the implementation of acupuncture can be offered as an approach to improve movements of the shoulder in patients suffering from frozen shoulder.” (Reference cited below)
Beyond the studies and providing effective care, we believe in creating a relaxing environment for healing. We take the time to make custom treatment plans because every patient has unique needs, symptoms, and goals.
What sets us apart?
What we do for frozen shoulder goes way beyond the usual numbing of symptoms. Our patients look to us to provide education and to help them get their life back by improving their range of motion. In helping our patients achieve their goals, we look at how overall health issues impact the body’s ability to heal itself.
Here are some of the factors we consider:
- If there are significant adhesions and scar tissue, we think about how to reduce swelling and inflammation in the joint.
- The mechanisms to heal and maintain healthy tissue is all in the blood. We use techniques to improve blood flow to the shoulder joint to jumpstart healing.
- Pain can come from nerves, muscles, or tendons. We use techniques for regulating nerve and muscle function attached to the affected shoulder.
We use an integrative approach to solving shoulder problems to achieve lasting results. After all, the goal for most patients is more complex than pain reduction. They want to get their lives back!
We work to increase the range of motion and muscle performance, optimize blood circulation and improve overall health. We do this so that our patients enjoy better sleep, higher quality of life, and most importantly so that they can get back to being active.
Mahsa Asheghan. Investigation of the Effectiveness of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Frozen Shoulder. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5034968/