How to 'thaw' Frozen Shoulder with acupuncture12 Mar 2013
In traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture terms, we view Frozen Shoulder very literally-your shoulder is icy cold and frozen!
This is why you will experience limited range of motion and pain with certain movements.
This sort of diagnosis can be quite confusing, especially if your doctor has told you that your shoulder is inflamed.
However, you will probably notice that if you ice your shoulder to reduce the inflammation, it will actually end up with less range of motion and more pain a few hours after icing.
This is where acupuncture can be so beneficial – it can reduce inflammation while also warming the shoulder joint.
In acupuncture we focus our treatment of Frozen Shoulder around unblocking the acupuncture channels and warming them up.
Acupuncture points are usually located around the affected shoulder, with a few distal points that may be in areas such as your legs or hands.
While your points are in place, moxibustion is used as a way of warming up the frozen area. Moxibustion is the burning of the herb Ai Ye (Mugwort) close to the skin, which creates a warming sensation.
Often you will be given a moxa stick to take home and continue your moxibustion on a daily basis.
Quite often a diagnosis for Frozen Shoulder can take some time as people frequently put off visiting their doctor in the hope that it will get better on its own.
The longer you leave a frozen shoulder, the longer it will take to warm up and get better.
If you seek acupuncture treatment sooner rather than later, it takes roughly six weekly sessions to get back on track and feeling good again.
Your acupuncturist will test your range of motion each session and you should see a marked improvement in how high you can raise your arms each time.
You might also like to use a heat pack (wheat bag or hot water bottle) to keep your shoulder warm. It’s also a good idea to wear warm clothes to stop the cold getting back into your shoulder joint (be very wary of window draughts at night!).
*Kim Gatenby is a leading Sydney acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (TCM) degree.