Frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, begins with stiffness and pain in the shoulder. Over time, the pain gradually increases until the whole area is no longer able to move. This is due to a thickening of the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint. The final stage results in extreme stiffness which greatly reduces, or completely eliminates, the full range of motion. A full recovery is possible without any medical treatment, however, this can take up to 3 years.
Three stages of frozen shoulder are:
Freezing - indicates problems with pain and range of motion.
Frozen - less pain, but also an impaired ability to move the area.
Thawing - movement becomes easier, and there is less pain.
Lack of physical movement of the arms and shoulders can increase the risk for developing adhesive capsulitis. A simple remedy, before any symptoms set in, includes exercises that utilize the full range of motion for this area of the body. Sometimes, however, injuries or other medical conditions can prevent this from happening. For those who can, give your body a nice, deep stretch by raising your arms as high as they will go. Swinging your arms in all directions, even just for a minute or two, will help stimulate blood flow and keep your muscles supple.
A practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine can also assist in bringing mobility back to the shoulder and reducing pain. Two excellent acupuncture points include a point on the leg called Yanglingquan, and another one on the front of the shoulder, named Jianqian. The English translation of Jianqian is 'front of the shoulder,' taking all mystery out of where this point is located.
The main function of Jianqian is to treat shoulder-related issues, including pain, stiffness, diminished mobility and even paralysis. The acupuncture point performs encourages Qi and blood to move into the area. Qi is the most basic, fundamental energy source that all life needs to exist. When Qi flows unimpeded into an injured part of the body, blood follows and brings with it the healing and lubricating agents needed to reduce the symptoms of frozen shoulder.
This healing process can be further enhanced with the needling of Yanglingquan. This acupuncture point is versatile, and even though it is located on the lower half of the body, it can communicate with the upper half and deliver Qi where it is needed. This point is widely regarded for its special effect on the sinew, soft tissue and joints. This is particularly useful in the case of adhesive capsulitis to help lubricate and soften the area surrounding the shoulder joint.
While a little pain and stiffness in the shoulders and arms may not be cause for alarm, especially at the end of a stressful day or a good work-out, sustained discomfort and an inhibited range of motion may be something more serious. Let your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine know about any symptoms of frozen shoulder.
Contact an Acupuncturist to schedule an appointment and see what acupuncure and Oriental medicine can do for you!
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.