Frozen shoulder also called adhesive capsulitis, is characterized as stiffness, pain, and limited mobility of the shoulder joint. It commonly occurs after an injury, or repetitive strain. It can also be caused by other diseases/conditions, such as diabetes or stroke.
In the majority of circumstances, the tissues surrounding the joint stiffen, and shoulder movement is diminished, difficult and painful. Frozen shoulder can occur suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere. It is most common in people over 40, and about two thirds of patients are women. Most patients first notice that they are having trouble reaching behind to touch bra clasps, wallets, and back itches.
The typical western medicine treatment for frozen shoulder consists of pain-killers and anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAID’s and Corticosteroid injections. They may also suggest stretching and physical therapy. Most of the time this results in poor outcomes, with no improvement or limited improvement that may take up to a year or longer.
Acupuncture, however is one of the most effective treatments for frozen shoulder, when administered by a qualified acupuncturist that is trained and registered with AHPRA. From my experience, the majority of cases typically respond with some form of immediate benefit. Most often manifesting as reduction in pain, and increased mobility. With continued treatment, full recovery is very common.
Acupuncture has the ability to trigger the central nervous system to make the shoulder joint relax, and ligaments lengthen. This creates more space to free the joint. Acupuncture also increases blood flow to the effected area which oxygenates the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, further relaxing them, and giving the body what it needs to rapidly heal itself – Nerve Impulses, Blood, Oxygen, and Nutrition.
In the majority of cases, the shoulder joint is compacted and inflamed. While local needling may be a good way to break up scar tissue, and give some mild relief, it is usually short lived, and may actually slow down the desired healing response.
The reason being, the needling of the injured shoulder causes further aggravation to a place that is already inflamed. For this reason, I rarely ever do any local needling, but instead choose points that are far from the area of injury that illicit a strong signal to the brain and central nervous system to heal the frozen shoulder.
This usually results in fast and effective outcomes of pain reduction, and increased mobility within the first treatment session. Since acupuncture works directly with the nervous system, it also effects hormone secretion and has the ability to improve other underlying conditions that may be attributing to the frozen shoulder, whether they are stress and emotional aspects, or internal medicine problems.
Acupuncture is a very safe, fast, and effective treatment option for frozen shoulder, because one does not have to ingest any drugs, or inject any harmful chemicals. Why suffer any longer, and what do you have to lose? Why not, give acupuncture a try!
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Alchemy Wellness Centre is located in Byron Bay, NSW Australia
RJ Singer is a registered Acupuncturist, and Chinese Medicine Doctor with AHPRA and AACMA. He is also a highly regarded QiGong Healer and Teacher, and Feng Shui Consultant. RJ’s area of special interest is in the treatment of stubborn and difficult chronic disease, and all types of painful conditions.
Katrina Hillis is a Kinergetics Kinesiologist, and a registered Remedial & Relaxation Massage Therapist with AMT, who specialises in helping people overcome emotional issues and life transitions working holistically to balance the body, mind and spirit.