Frozen Shoulder

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Frozen Shoulder

How do you know if you have frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is characterised by dull and aching pain, decreased or restricted range of motion accompanied with stiffness.  It is most common between the ages of 45 and 60, and is also quite common in menopausal women.  Usually the cause is unknown, but it can develop after trauma to the rotator cuff in the shoulder.  It can on its own with little or no treatment, but this can take up to five years.

What is frozen shoulder?

The bones, ligaments and tendons that make up your shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement.  Doctors aren’t sure why this happens to some people, although it’s more likely to occur in people who have diabetes or those who recently had to immobilize their shoulder for a long period, such as after surgery or an arm fracture.  I

People who have certain diseases appear more likely to develop frozen shoulder. Diseases that might increase risk include:


•Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

•Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

•Cardiovascular disease


•Parkinson’s disease

The usual treatment for frozen shoulder includes physiotherapy, painkillers and anti-inflammatories, steroid injections and surgery.

How can Acupuncture help frozen shoulder?

From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, pain occurs when Qi circulation is blocked. It also can be caused by disorders in the internal organs and disturbance of the channels. However. there are many factors that may lead to pain.  

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety (Wu 1999)

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