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Chinese acupuncture for shoulder pain

What is Chinese acupuncture?
Chinese acupuncture began more than 3,000 years ago and is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncture involves the placement of very slender needles into the skin along predetermined points for therapeutic effect. It works by unblocking the flow of energy along channels, or "meridians". The theory behind acupuncture is that when the body's energy channels are blocked, discomfort results.

What is shoulder pain cause?
Shoulder pain is an extremely common symptom, and there are many common causes of this problem. The major causes of shoulder pain include tendon inflammation (bursitis or tendinitis) or tendon tear, adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder), instability, arthritis, and fracture (broken bone). Other much less common causes of shoulder pain are tumors, infection, and nerve-related problems.

Can acupuncture control shoulder pain?
Chinese acupuncture is an effective treatment for both acute and chronic shoulder pain. In June 2009, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center reported a single-blind randomized, controlled trial. The participants were adults with shoulder pain for at least 8 weeks with a diagnosis of osteoarthritis or rotator cuff tendonitis and a total Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI) score of > or =30.

Thirty-one subjects were randomized to one of three treatment groups: individualized acupuncture points according to the approaches of traditional Chinese medicine; fixed, standard acupuncture points conventionally used for shoulder pain; and sham nonpenetrating acupuncture. After 6 weeks of treatment, the mean total SPADI score improved in all three groups, but the change was clinically significant only in groups 1 and 2, respectively. The conclusion is that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for chronic shoulder pain.

Why does acupuncture sometimes not work?
Traditional Chinese medicine, including Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, is a complex systemic science, which needs to take a long time to learn and practice. To obtain the best treatment result, at least two major things need to know: finding correct acupuncture point formula and finding correct point location. Otherwise, acupuncture may not work very well. This may explain the opinion reviews were inconclusive for shoulder pain, lateral elbow pain, and low back pain (Chin J Integr Med. 2011 March).

Is acupuncture safe?   
Yes. Acupuncture is a safe treatment. It may occasionally cause dizziness, local internal bleeding, dermatitis, nerve damage, and/or increased pain (especially when the acupuncturist is not well-trained). So a well-trained professional and experienced acupuncturist is vital for effectiveness and safety.


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