Frozen shoulder – or adhesive capsulitis – is a common condition that causes pain, discomfort and reduced range of motion in the shoulder. Left untreated, the condition tends to get worse over time and can make everyday activities like getting dressed or reaching for items difficult or even impossible.
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating frozen shoulder and chronic shoulder pain. At Acupuncture Geelong, we have treated a number of people with frozen shoulder using a combination of traditional Chinese medicine treatments, including acupuncture.
What is frozen shoulder?
Frozen shoulder is a fairly common condition in Australia, mostly affecting people in their 50s and 60s. It’s characterised by pain, stiffness and reduced movement in the shoulder area. Generally, it’s thought that frozen shoulder develops when the joint becomes inflamed and the surrounding tissue shrinks and hardens.
While the causes of frozen shoulder aren’t always known, it’s generally thought to be a result of injury or a related treatment (like shoulder, neck or back surgery). Some chronic conditions like diabetes can also make people more susceptible to frozen shoulder.
The evidence for acupuncture and frozen shoulder
A randomised, placebo controlled trial carried out in a hospital in Spain (de Hoyos et al. 2004) found that the acupuncture group showed “a significantly greater improvement in pain intensity compared with the control group” at six months following treatment. They concluded that acupuncture is an effective long-term treatment for patients with shoulder pain.
In a German trial (Molsberger, A. 2010), 424 patients with chronic shoulder pain were randomly assigned to receive acupuncture, sham acupuncture or conventional orthopaedic treatment. Patients received 15 treatments over 6 weeks, with their pain levels and shoulder mobility measured after treatment and three months later. The results showed greater improvement of shoulder mobility for the acupuncture group versus conventional treatment group immediately after treatment and after 3 months.
Acupuncture treatment for frozen shoulder in Geelong
Acupuncture involves small needles being inserted through the skin and into the tissues and other structures of the body. This, in turn, triggers an immune response from the body that’s designed to clear inflammation and repair damaged tissue.
The goal of acupuncture in treating frozen shoulder is to reduce recovery time, while at the same time decrease pain. While you should experience pain relief after just one or two sessions, a number of sessions might be needed to fully recover and return to full mobility.
Acupuncture is also used alongside other treatments such as Chinese massage and at-home exercises to facilitate movement. In your first appointment, Dr Phillip Tring will carry out an assessment using traditional Chinese medicine diagnostic tools to come up with a treatment plan for your frozen shoulder.
Dr Phillip Tring is a qualified and AHPRA registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner with 7 years of experience. He has experience treating a wide range of presenting conditions, particularly those associated with modern life such as back pain, sciatica, sports injuries, and stress.
Known for his friendly, warm and humorous approach to treatment, Dr Phillip combines his knowledge of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine with a passion for improving his clients’ general health, nutrition and wellbeing.