Acupuncture offers another option to Cortisone for a Frozen Shoulder
A common complaint I see in my clinic is an inability to move the arm properly which has been slowly worsening over months. It often occurs after the patient has been exposed to a cold wind or out in the elements for an extended period of time. No different to how people catch a “chill in their neck”, the same can happen to your shoulder. It often starts off as mild stiffness which slowly develops into a state where they can barely lift their arm. The longer it is left untreated, the more difficult it is to resolve.
In Western Medicine it is call “Adhesive Capsulitis”. The connective tissue surrounding the joint where the Humerus and Scapula meet becomes inflamed and stiff, greatly restricting motion and causing chronic pain. The exact cause is unknown from their perspective, but they have identified several risk factors, which as usual are quite vague. The therapies too are often either cortisone or hydro-dilatation, both of which are quite invasive and not always successful.
In Chinese Medicine is is often caused by a “wind-cold” invasion. As it sounds, the shoulder region is exposed to a strong cold wind which invades the local tissues, blocking up the flow of Qi and Blood, this starts of as an aching type pain, but if left untreated can cause further blockages which can lead to loss of movement. Several studies have been performed over the years showing Acupuncture to be quite effective in treating frozen shoulder.
Often it occurs in winter due to the cold weather, similar to how people develop Bell’s Palsy, but it can also occur in the warmer months too. Think of this scenario, you’re at the beach, nice warm afternoon, the skin is warm and therefore highly vascularised, then a cool change sweeps through and suddenly you get hit but a cold breeze. Since your body has suddenly gone from being hot to cold, and with no clothing to protect your skin, you can see how you can catch a chill.
It can also occur in the elderly, as their Wei Qi (your defensive Qi), which acts like your immune system is not as strong as when you were young. Therefore your body is more susceptible to the environment, and obviously factors like fatigue and stress can also weaken your immune system allowing conditions like Frozen Shoulder to occur.
Acupuncture aids this condition by stimulating the movement of Qi and Blood in the shoulder, which helps release the locked up tissues, warm the muscles and thereby improvement range of movement without being highly invasive.
References to studies can be found here: