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Acupuncture and shoulder pain

Some of the common causes of shoulder pain include impingement syndrome, rotator cuff tears, frozen shoulder, arthritis and pinched nerve form the neck. Most people have heard of rotor cuff injuries. The rotor cuff consists of supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis muscle and tendons. These muscles can have micro tears or inflammation and weakness. This can lead to a frozen shoulder - which is a pain that restricts ROM (room of motion).

Our shoulders are very hard working, this joint has the largest range of motion and still is able to move and lift heavy objects with stability. Other then back and neck pain,shoulders are high on my list of complaints that I treat in my clinic.

Researchers from Yuxi Hospital of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) investigated the results of acupuncture for the treatment of frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis). Their investigation reveals that acupuncture has a total effective resolution rate exceeding 90%.

Most of the clients I see that suffer from frozen shoulders, cannot tell me the direct cause of pain but according to Janet Travell, who was the leading researcher in the concept of trigger point and referred pain, believes trigger points in the subscapularis to be a major cause.

Suscapulars attaches underneath the scapula and to the ​humerus, it helps keep the humerus in place when moving the arm and to rotate the arm inwards. Trigger points are sensitive nodules in the musculature that cause referred pain. This referred pain is located at the back of the deltoid, extending to the back, over the scapula. Some people have referred pain down the triceps and appears again as a band around the wrist.

The early sign of trouble in this area is the inability to reach backwards (to throw a ball or unclasp a bra) and in it's later stage it is painful to reach above the head. Acupuncture can help remove trigger points that are creating pain.

Common reasons trigger points are activated:

1. Overworking medial rotation of huterus (freestyle swimming and throwing a baseball).

2. Strong lifting overhead while adducting the arm (kettle bell swings).

3. Bracing a fall creating sudden stress on the shoulder/s.

What can you do to help your subscapularis?

1. Acupuncture. We can either acupuncture directly or indirectly (further away from the shoulder) to reduce inflammation, improve ROM and free impingements.

2. Change your posture. Avoid a slumped forward posture where your shoulders are forward. A good way to improve your posture is by hooking your thumbs into your jean loops to create space between your arms and the sides of your body. when you are at your desk raise your arms up and back behind your head.

At night if you are on your painful side sleep with a pillow between the elbow and your body. If you sleep with your painful arm in the air you can place the pillow between your elbow and body. If you sleep with your painful arm in the air you can place the pillow in front of you and rest the arm on the pillow.

3. Stretch. The doorway stretch is great for the subscapularis.


Stand in doorway with forearms against frame. Lean forward with torso keeping arms against door- frame.

Keep head upright. • Stretch felt across chest.

◊ Hold for 10-20 seconds

◊ Repeat 3 times

◊ Do 3 times daily

If your shoulder pain is coming from trigger points in the subscapularis muscles, no amount of pain killers, cortisone shots nor surgeries is going to solve the problem.

You can give Ash a call on 02 5310 6259 or book online at https://www.bodyandspinesolutions.com.au/online-booking

Until then keep moving.


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