10 November 2013 by Heiko Lade
Even though research has confirmed that acupuncture for Frozen Shoulder works very well, many people coming to The Acupuncture Clinic are still curious as to how acupuncture actually can do it. From a western medical perspective, modern physicians don’t actually know what causes frozen shoulder and their treatments are basically ineffective. The most intriguing aspect of frozen shoulder is that there is usually no history of injury which has led some researchers to believe that there is an auto immune component but researchers are still not clear why the problem can rectify itself after 18 months or so without any treatment.
Frozen shoulder and its symptoms were recorded and documented in classical Chinese medicine texts more than a thousand years ago. The condition was given the names like ‘100 Years old shoulder” or “Old Woman’s Shoulder”.
Interestingly, western medical researchers have statistics that show frozen shoulder affects more women than men and ancient Chinese physicians also noticed this. This is why the treatment of frozen shoulder in men and women can actually be different. There is not a one size fits all approach in Chinese medicine, unlike western medicine where steroid injections are the norm for young and old, male or female.
Acupuncture physicians basically aim to restore harmony between yin and yang in the body. In fact frozen shoulder has a problem with both the yin and yang. Western medical observation has actually helped reinforce the traditional Chinese medicine view of frozen shoulder.
Western medicine says that patients complain of the shoulder feeling worse in cold weather and in particular when the weather suddenly changes to extreme cold. Chinese medicine says that frozen shoulder is caused by the outside cold weather penetrating into the shoulder joint and accumulating there and then “freezing” up the joint.
Western medicine says that frozen shoulder has a lack of synovial fluid lubricating the upper arm and shoulder blade. Chinese medicine says that the watery yin fluids have become either depleted or dried up, possibly from a history of fever and flu.
Western medicine has noted that the pain of frozen shoulder increases at night. Chinese medicine says that this is due to a blockage of energy and blood circulation which becomes escalated at night from sleeping and inactivity.
Western medicine says that regular stretching and moving exercises help recovery.
Chinese medicine physicians in the treatment of frozen shoulder then simply go about and rectify the obvious.
The cold accumulation is warmed up with moxibustion.
The yin fluids are nourished by using fluid building acupuncture points or yin moistening Chinese herbs such as yu zhu.
The blockage that causes the increased pain at night is treated by acupuncture points that have the known function of mobilising energy and increasing circulation of blood. In particular cupping is used to increase blood circulation.
Women presenting with frozen shoulder have additional acupuncture points to regulate and benefit the hormonal system.
Tui na is recommended to further improve mobilization and to hasten recovery even more quickly, it is suggested to take up Tai Chi.