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Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a painful condition that affects movement of the shoulder .Frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis or shoulder contracture.Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a common, painful and sometimes disabling condition that can last for months or years. It affects around 2% of adults (Lundberg 1969). The characteristic symptoms are pain, stiffness, and limitation of active and passive shoulder movements.

There is no universally accepted definition of frozen shoulder and the cause is poorly understood (Naviaser 1987, Bunker 1997).  It is thought that scar tissue forms in the fibrous capsule surrounding the shoulder joint (Bunker 1997), causing it to thicken and contract, so restricting shoulder movement. Frozen shoulder is most common in people aged 40-60 years and, in up to 20% of those affected, it will later develop in the other shoulder (Harryman 1998).

The aims of treatment are to relieve pain, minimise joint restriction and speed resolution of the condition

Acupuncture can frozen shoulder by helping reduce pain, inflammation, muscle and joint stiffness, and so may help in the treatment of frozen shoulder, by:

stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz, 1987, Zijlstra 2003, Zhao 2008, Cheng 2009);reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim 2008, Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003);enhancing local microcirculation, by increasing the diameter and blood flow velocity of peripheral arterioles (Komori 2009).

In addition to using acupuncture I will often use

  • stretching exercises using specific techniques to move the joint in all directions

  • massage to work into the soft tissues of the joint.

  • Heat lamp therapy

  • Mobilisation of the shoulder joint to encourage movement

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