Posts Tagged ‘shoulder pain’
Sep 12, 2012
Acupuncture is famous for the treatment of chronic pain. Chronic pain is one of the most common health concerns I see in my NYC acupuncture clinic. Back pain, headaches, migraines, shoulder pain, knee pain, neuropathy, arthritis, and other chronic pain conditions. Patients can have profound results.
In the clinic we know acupuncture is effective for pain, but often skeptics are vocal opponents because they believe that there is not enough research.
Recently, a very large analysis of research trials, called a meta-analysis, was published focusing on acupuncture for pain. The meta-analysis shows that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of pain. This was across many pain conditions including back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headaches, and shoulder pain.
Andrew Vickers PhD, the head author, and his team painstakingly reviewed virtually all of the acupuncture research trials which have focused on pain. They had strict criteria for the quality of the studies to be included in their analysis. In the end, the group used 29 acupuncture studies which included 17922 total patients.
The results of the study showed that acupuncture was much better than no-acupuncture control groups across the studies. The acupuncture was also better than placebo acupuncture across the groups. The difference between real and placebo acupuncture was not as large as the difference between acupuncture and no acupuncture. However, the numbers are large enough to show a real difference between placebo and real acupuncture for pain reduction.
Jan 22, 2012
Rotator cuff injuries plagues athletes and non-athletes alike. It most often occurs from repetitive actions like throwing a ball, lifting, or even sitting at a computer.
One of the most common injuries to the rotator cuff is rotator cuff tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendons. These injuries can be chronic and stubborn. But the good news is that acupuncture can help. Acupuncture for rotator cuff injury and tendinitis is a very effective and safe treatment.
What is the rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that connect the shoulder to the humerus bone of the arm: the suprspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscle. These muscles provide mobility to the arm as well as stabilize the arm while it moves.
How does an injury develop?
Rotator cuff tendinitis, inflammation in to the tendon or the rotator cuff, is a common injury. Sometimes rotator cuff injuries also involve the muscles. Injuries often occur from repetitive movements like throwing a ball. It is also possible to injury the rotator cuff through injuries like falling or lifting something too heavy.
From the injury, one may develop pain, weakness, difficultly moving the arm, and irritation. If left untreated, it may become worse. Due to lack of motion of the arm, the arm may loose muscles mass and develop long term weakness. If muscle mass is loss, physical therapy is helpful to regain strength. It is important to visit your doctor to rule out other causes of the pain.
Acupuncture and rotator cuff tendinitis
Acupuncture is very effective for treating rotator cuff tendinitis. After an examination, your acupuncturist will create an acupuncture treatment plan.
The acupuncture points used are often on the shoulder and upper back. Sometimes the treatment focuses more on the front of the shoulder. Other times, it may focus on the upper back and back of the shoulder.
Electroacupuncture is particularly effective for rotator cuff injuries. The treatment is generally 6-10 weeks with patients coming in once or twice a week depending on the severity of the injury.
Acupuncture works to help rotator cuff injuries by increasing the circulation to the area and decreasing inflammation in the tendons. Acupuncture also works to reduce pain and inflammation through regulating neural pain pathways, stimulating the release of natural pain relieves in the body, such as opioids, as well as regulating pain relieving opioid receptors. Many studies have also shown acupuncture to have a anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones in the blood (1).
The acupuncture treatment often includes other manual therapies such as cupping and acupressure. I use a type of tui na which is very effective for shoulder pain and rotator cuff injuries.
Research on Acupuncture for Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
In one study on acupuncture for rotator cuff tendinitis 52 people were enrolled and received acupuncture 2 times per week for 4 weeks (2). In this study, they used an innovative placebo needle. When the acupuncturist goes to insert the needle, the tip of it retracts, so there is no needle insertion. The acupuncture group’s pain was reduced significantly more than the placebo acupuncture group.
1. Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.
2. Kleinhenz J, Streitberger K, Windeler J, et.al. Randomised clinical trial comparing the effects of acupuncture and a newly designed placebo needle in rotator cuff tendinitis. Pain. 1999 Nov;83(2):235-41.
Written by: Joseph Alban
Last Edited: 1/23/2012
Oct 5, 2011
Below is in-depth information about conditions we commonly treat. No list can be complete. If you do not see your concern please call and ask us about it.
Many of the diseases on this list are linked to articles we’ve written.
- Chronic pain
- Chronic low back pain
- Neck pain
- Knee pain
- Shoulder pain
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Frozen Shoulder
- Atopic eczema
- Pompholyx eczema
- Nummular Eczema
- Perioral Dermatitis
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome
- Overactive bladder
- Interstital cystitis
- Bladder Spasms
- Frequent Urination
- Post Prostate Cancer Recovery
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Acupuncture for IVF
- Painful and Irregular Cycles
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Poor Digestion
- Nausea and morning sickness
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
Mar 18, 2011
On Monday is the last class of my Acupressure for Self Healing Class at the Open Center. My some of students asked for a preview of the class.
- We will discuss imbalance that cause back pain such as qi stagnation, qi vacuity, dampness, and cold
- We will cover powerful acupressure points for back pain like Small Intestine 3 and Kidney 3
- We’ll discuss San Jiao 5, 6, and 8 for neck pain
- I will teach you some qi gong and back exercises for back pain and exercises for shoulder pain and neck pain
- And we’ll review the Dao Yin acupressure and the acupressure tune up
Jan 13, 2011
Over the years I have used acupuncture to treat many patients for neck and shoulder pain. My approach is unique assessing the strength of the energy and using acupuncture and acupressure to correct it.
Here are the best posts explaining the theory and treatment of acupuncture for neck and shoulder pain as well as stretches and exercises you can do at home.
How acupuncture works for Neck and Shoulder Pain
- Acupuncture to Relieve Neck and Back Pain
- Three Reasons Acupressure works to treat Neck and Back Pain
- Acupuncture for a Rotator Cuff Injury
- Acupuncture for Neck and Shoulder Pain
Stretches and Exercises for Shoulder and Neck Pain
- Exercises for Opening the Shoulder, Neck, and Rotator Cuff
- Five Essential Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain
- Ten Ways to Prevent Neck and Shoulder Pain
I would be happy to speak with you more about how acupuncture can help reduce your neck, back, and shoulder pain. Call 917-887-4946 or e-mail us to make an appointment.
Nov 10, 2010
In this post, I will wrap up my series on acupuncture for shoulder pain with two cases, one about an athlete and the other a retired New Yorker.
The Athlete with a Pain in the Neck
This patient is a serious athlete in his mid 30’s. He exercised five times per week, lifting weights in the gym, bike riding, and playing a number of organized sports. After an injury a few months before, he began to develop pain and stiffness in the right side of his neck. The pain was worse after lifting weights as well as after cycling.
When he came into the office, it was clear he has decrease range of motion in the neck. Often, after an injury, the muscles and connective tissue will tighten up, leading to reduced movement. He also had a tight string-like pulse, a sign of stagnation. I used acupuncture points on the neck and shoulders with strong stimulation to increase the circulation. The acupressure focused on relaxing the muscles and improving circulation, as well as loosening the connective tissue.
Results: There was no change in range of motion for a few visits, although the pain was decreased. I reassured the patient I believed the movement and flexibility would improve. By 5th visit, he began to see an improvement in range of motion. By the 8th visit, his movement was returned almost to normal. I advised to continue for 3 more visits to assure that the pain and stiffness did not return.
Pain from an Accident
This patient is retired and is generally healthy. But he has a nagging pain and decrease range of motion in his neck from a previous automobile accident. The bones healed properly, but the pain remained and it was very difficult for him to look to the right. There was a band of pain from the base of his skull, down the neck, and to the top of his shoulder. His pulse was slow and weak, which showed that there was too little qi and impeded the healing process.
The acupuncture was focused on boosting up the energy and increasing the circulation. I chose points of GB 20, SJ 6, GB 34, and KI 3. I find that when there is too little energy, using only a few acupuncture points is more effective to give a boost. The acupressure was focused on gently rolling technique and relaxation of the connective tissue.
Results: Boosting energy often takes longer than increasing circulation. Also, the accident occurred over 5 years in the past and the injury was chronic. However, this patient began to feel relief quickly after three visits. He had an increase in range of motion and a decrease in pain. He continued treatment for another five weeks, at which point he was feeling a greater pain relief and increase in range of motion.
Sep 1, 2010
- What can Chinese Medicine help?
- What should I expect on my first visit?
- How long is a usual treatment course?
- Is acupuncture covered by insurance or HSA?
- Is acupuncture tax deductible?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- What are your hours?
- What is Qi?
- Is there modern research about Chinese Medicine and acupuncture?
- Is acupuncture safe?
1. What can Chinese Medicine help?
Back, Knee, and Shoulder Pain
Headache and Migraines
Painful and Irregular
Frequent Urination and
Common Cold and Flu
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Crohn’s Disease and Colitis
2. What should I expect on my first visit?
3. How long is a usual treatment course?
4. Is acupuncture covered by Insurance or Health Savings Account?
Our office must qualify your insurance prior to your visit. If we have not previously inquired about insurance, we will ask you to pay in full at the time of the visit. This is because contacting your insurance company takes time and our office cannot do it at the time of your appointment.
You can use your Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to pay for or get reimbursed for acupuncture. Student rates are available.
5. Is acupuncture tax deductible?
6. What is your cancellation policy?
7. What are your hours?
We do not have appointments on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
8. What is Qi?
9. Is there modern research about Chinese Medicine and acupuncture?
10. Is acupuncture safe?
Aug 16, 2010
I recommend these simple stretches as part of my approach to treatment and post therapy maintenance.
A Wooden Hinge Gets No Worms
There is a saying in Chinese medicine, “A wooden hinge gets no worms.” The idea is that a wooden door, cabinet, bench, or stump will get worms because it does not move. It just sits there. But a hinge moves all the time and prevents decay. In other words, move it or loose it.
These are exercises which I have collected from many excellent teachers. They should be performed slowly with smooth movements. You can read more about them in two excellent books: Xing Yi Nei Gongby Tim Cartmell and A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouthby Tom Bisio.
Rotate your head
The head, neck, and shoulders are connected, pretty obvious. The muscles of the shoulder are interconnected to these areas, and tightness in the neck will cause tightness in the shoulders, and vice versa.
Standing straight, feet shoulder width apart. Slowly look to your right, and now slowly look to your left. Don’t push it. Don’t go farther than you naturally can turn your head. Repeat 10 times.
Look Up and Down
Standing with relaxed shoulders, gentle look up. Do not push beyond your natural limit. Now, gently look down. Repeat 9 times.
Open the shoulder
Stand straight. With your right arm, grab under your left shoulder. Rotate your arm, at the shoulder in a big circle. First going forward 9 times, and then doing it in reverse, backwards ten times. Switch arms.
It is very simple. Open the joints, keep them moving, and you will feel better. Do these exercises a few times per week. If you are very stiff, you can perform them slowly steadily, but do not push beyond your limits. Gradually your body will loosen up.
- Acupuncture for Neck and Shoulder Pain
- Ten Ways to Prevent Neck and Shoulder Pain
- Five Essential Stretches for Shoulder Pain
- Acupuncture for Rotator Cuff Injury
Apr 30, 2009
I treat a lot of neck and shoulder pain with acupuncture and acupressure. After the pain has been reduced, it is important for you to adopt healthy habits in order to prevent the pain from coming back.
Here are ten things I tell all my patients with shoulder pain.
1. Get a backpack with two straps. Bags with single straps are often not balanced.
2. Do breathing exercises to relax the auxiliary respiratory muscles of the neck.
3. Sleep! If you can’t sleep, get acupuncture for insomnia.
4. Stretch your neck and shoulders.
5. Be aware when you are uncomfortable and in pain and try to adjust your body.
6. Use a wrist support for your keyboard and your mouse.
7. Regularly massage the acupuncture point Small Intestine 3.
8. Don’t slouch. Practice tai ji, yoga, or Alexander Method to improve your posture.
9. Take a break from working (especially on the computer) to give yourself a rest.
10. Reduce your stress.
Apr 28, 2009
Recently, a young mother came into my office suffering from shoulder and neck pain. The center of the pain was a tight knot at the apex of her left shoulder. The pain was strong and nearly constant. It radiated from the shoulder to the base of the skull and there was a feeling of tightness that radiated across the front of the chest.
She is a busy mother. Playing and lifting her daughter exacerbated the problem. She had been seeing a chiropractor and a pain management doctor who was doing injections for 3 years without relief. She ended up taking pain medication almost everyday, she was extremely frustrated with her situation, and her sleep was terrible from the pain and tightness.
After one acupuncture session her pain was lessened by about half. At the end of a series of five treatments, along with some exercises at home, she had only occasional minor pain, and did not take any pain medications.
What is your approach to treatment?
The results of the acupuncture treatment depends upon the skill and approach of the practitioner. My success comes from the combination of acupuncture and acupressure over large muscle groups, using the whole acupuncture channel, treating the root of the condition, and my unique acupressure technique, which I learned in China. Also,I advise patients to do exercises and stretches at home to prevent the problem from returning.
Shoulder and Neck muscle groups
The body is interconnected, tension from one area can create problems in other muscles. In Tai ji we say that tension in the little toe can create tension in the whole body. Often, trying to target and treat only the location of the pain does not relieve the tension in the surrounding muscle groups. This is particularly true when treating pain in the neck and shoulders. All of the muscles in the region need to be addressed.
In my patient’s case the knot was on her shoulder, specifically in her trapezius muscle. Focusing on this muscle alone, and not relaxing the detoids, rhomboids, SCM, and even the biceps leaves the surrounding muscles tight.
The body is integrated by a series of channels. The location of pain and stiff muscles often follows the course of a specific channel. Targeting powerful acupuncture points on that channel, will move the stagnation that is causing the pain. In my patient’s case, the pain was on the Gallbladder channel and I used GB 34 to move the stagnation.
Some outside the field of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine believe that needling the location of the pain is sufficient. This is called dry needling, which is not nearly as effective as when the entire channel is considered.
The key tui na technique I use is called the rolling technique, called gun fa in Chinese. Many acupuncturists know this technique. However, most do not utilize the movement of the wrist along with the whole hand which makes the technique feel smooth. I learned this while studying in China with Dr. Xiao at the Hunan University of traditional Chinese Medicine.
If you push too hard on a muscle, the muscle will rebel. Instead of relaxing, it can become tighter. My rolling technique, because it is smooth allows the use of strength while avoiding resistance within the muscle.
Treating the root of the condition
Chinese medicine is not simply putting a needle into the body where it hurts. It is based on a theory that the problem you have is caused by an imbalance. When it comes to muscle pain, the clinician must determine if it is an excess condition or a deficiency condition, and tailor the treatment to that diagnosis.
Excess conditions are when there is a build up in the muscles. This impedes the circulation of qi which leads to pain. A deficient condition is when there is not enough energy. Then the muscles do not have enough substance to support them, as a result they tense up.
I like to describe excess and deficiency by comparing the muscles to a narrow bridge (please excuse any physics mistakes, I am not an engineer).
When there is an excess condition, there is too much trash, debries, and cracks in the pavement for you to safely and easily cross the bridge. Climbing over the obstacles causes you to slow down, and sometimes you injure yourself. The acupuncture and tui na helps to remove the trash and smooth over the cracks.
When there is a deficiency, the support columns for the bridge are unstable. The bridge is rocky, can develop cracks, the sidewalk is tense, but shaky, and the tension on sides of the bridge increases. This also makes it hard for you to pass. In this case, the acupuncture and acupressure helps to support the bridge, which will allow you to cross safely.
For an excess condition, you will use a stronger technique, and for a deficient condition, you will use a more gentle technique. If the deficiency is very extreme, then the treatment may be take a longer time.
Neck Exercises at Home
Acupuncture treatment helps to correct the imbalance and allow the body to heal. Staying healthy and preventing the pain from returning is something you do on your own with qi gong exercises and stretches. Use these neck stretches and basic qi gong to keep your body healthy and prevent the pain from returning.