A Case Study – Acupuncture for Shoulder Pain

Acupuncture for Shoulder Pain

Although strictly speaking not related to the Water element, but an Earth element issue, this is a great Acupuncture success story that I wanted to tell you all about straight away.

Why an Earth issue?

Well, primarily because all of the meridians related to digestion (Large intestine, small intestine and Stomach) run in and around the shoulder joint.  But also in the Summer, the Earth time of year, there is a real danger of drought and everything drying out.  In the body this could cause the tendons to dry out leading to a loss of flexibility.

Water water everywhere

From a Water element point of view (Kidneys and Bladder) doing too much with little rest can have an adverse effect on our tendons.  Think of the Meridians as being like rivers and streams; if there is not enough rain there is a real danger they will run dry.  In addition, as you will remember from my earlier posts on the Water element, the Kidneys are the most Yin of our organs, so if they become depleted, then so does the Yin and the Qi that supplies the Meridians.  Yin also controls Yang (and vice versa of course), so if Yang is out of control (which is heating) then the body can start to dry out.  You can learn more about Yin and Yang in my earlier post.

A Pain in the Shoulder for 15 Years!

Joe is 56 and of wiry build, which in Chinese Medicine is a good sign of Yin deficiency.  He came to see me for pain and numbness he was experiencing in his left arm.  It originated in Joe’s shoulder but radiated all the way down to his hand, which was now numb.  He was a builder and the pain and numbness was now affecting his work, so he was keen to get back to full health as soon as possible.  This was an injury that had been hanging around for 15 years!  It was a constant ache that was keeping him awake at night, which obviously had a knock on affect on his work.  Joe was generally in good health but did have a history of digestive problems (diverticulitis) and he was in recovery from throat cancer.  Remember I mentioned above about the relationship the digestive meridians have with the shoulder?  Well this was a classic case of how an imbalance elsewhere in the body can affect a seemingly unrelated part via the meridians.  In this case it seemed to me that the Water was not nourishing the Earth.

Steve Coster Acupuncture Shoulder pain Shoulder Pain with Steve Coster Acupuncture

The Treatment

Just knowing the cause makes my job a whole lot easier.  So, by observation and palpation of Joe’s shoulder and arm, and based on what he had told me (as above), I placed a few needles in acupoints along the Large Intestine Meridian in his shoulder, arm and hand.  Because I knew the underlying weakness was related to Joe’s Water and Earth element, I also needled a few points to nourish his Yin and to get the Qi moving.  I also used a heat lamp on Joe’s shoulder, which is a really lovely way to slowly nourish the whole area.

The Result

From the first treatment Joe was in less pain.  By the sixth and last treatment he was totally pain free.  Joe told me that he played a round of golf expecting to have to quit after a few holes, but he completed 18 holes with no pain at all!


If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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