Frozen Shoulder | Symptoms and Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder | Symptoms and Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder can be very painful and can cause immobility to the shoulder joint. The medical term for this is adhesive capsulitis. Inflammation and scarring of the capsule around the shoulder joint can cause frozen shoulder. This scarring is also known as adhesions.

It is important to get a proper diagnosis of frozen shoulder. An injury to the shoulder and arthritis can have the frozen shoulder symptoms. Consulting your physician is the first step to getting the right diagnosis. The physician will begin by manipulating the affected shoulder. If diagnosis is not sure, he will order an X-ray. Then if the X-ray is not clear, an MRI may be done. This is usually done by injecting dye into the affected shoulder to see exactly where the problem is.

Common signs and symptoms

Intense pain in the deltoid region
Pain may radiate down the arm
Pain is worse with shoulder motion (especially external rotation)
Pain is better with rest
Pain is worse at night and often disturbs sleep
May have associated pain in the upper back and neck
Guarded shoulder movements
Difficulty reaching behind the back
Reduced arm swing with walking
Those affected typically hold the arm close against the body
Rounded shoulders and stooped posture
Muscle spasms
Trigger points in the upper trap muscle

During the first treatment, getting her to come onto the table was difficult since I didn’t have a step stool available at the time so I lifted her onto it. The first set of needles that went in the right shoulder was inserted into the local points and ashi points. Then I inserted needles into Zu San Li (ST-36), San Yin Jiao (SP-6), and Rang Gu (KID-2) for the qi and yin vacuity that was related to her Parkinson’s. Next I used direct moxibustion on Qi Hai (CV-6) to help treat her fatigue using three cones.

Also I manipulated the needles by hand using the reduction method to release the stagnated proteins her right shoulder and using the supplementation method to address the metabolic vacuities. After thirty minutes of needle retention and manipulation, I took out the needles and used pole moxibustion over her right shoulder. However, I used it in a way that was only taught to me by one my big influencing teachers. I took a paper towel, draped it over the right shoulder (the deltoid), and started tapping the lit end of the moxa pole onto the paper towel. This technique (which is not taught in TCM schools in the US) is much more powerful because the heat from the moxa penetrates deep to the tissues. The last part of the treatment involved tui na (medical massage) onto the shoulder.

This approach I used was the same approach I used in the other treatments that followed with a few modifications such as needle-head moxa over the right shoulder. After her first session was over, Mrs. Patel felt like her vitality had returned back. We continued treatment four more times. After she left my office after our first session with her niece, I noticed that Mrs. Patel was no longer walking like a frail, ill woman. She was walking like a twenty year old.

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I was worried thinking that the next time I’d see her she would be back to square one. However, when she came for her second session, she was walking the same way as she did after her first session. She did feel some level of trepidation walking up and down a flight of stairs. Despite that, she was still walking smoothly. After our last session together on August 21st, Mrs. Patel’s could now lift her right arm to a one-hundred and twenty degree angle. That showed tremendous amount of improvement than when I saw her for her first session. Unfortunately, with the constraints of time, we couldn’t see each other anymore since she had to leave for London the next day. Before Mrs. Patel left, I gave her the name of an acupuncturist and a herbalist in London.

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