Chinese Medicine Treatment for Frozen Shoulder


From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, frozen shoulder is considered as blockage in the flow of qi and blood throughout pathways in the body. In TCM theory, there are six external forces invade the human body to cause diseases. They are called the six external pathogens, namely wind, heat, dampness, fire, dryness and cold.

For people with frozen shoulder, the blockage is often caused by cold invade the body and enter into the shoulder muscles and joints which leads to shoulder joint become immobilized. Weather changes can induce the invasion of external pathogens. It is why shoulder pain may get worse at night or in cold weather.

In Chinese medicine, frozen shoulder is also known as fifties shoulder because one of the main reasons behind this shoulder condition is old age, when energy in the body is declining caused by yang qi deficiency.

Acupuncture Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

TCM practitioners often offer acupuncture treatment combined with herbal formula to treat frozen shoulder. Acupuncture treatment is very effective for treating frozen shoulder in early stage. It should help to reduce pain and improve range of motion after few treatments. According to the World Health Organization, acupuncture has been proved through controlled trials, to be an effective treatment for periarthritis of shoulder (1). Massage and heat therapy are also very helpful in treating the frozen shoulder. It assists in the relaxation of the affected muscles, relieving the tension and pain.

If you have frozen shoulder for more than few months or years, TCM treatment aims to treat the root cause of frozen shoulder. While the acupuncture is helpful to reduce pain and improve blood circulation, an herbal formula will be prescribed based on your condition and constitution to treat the blockage of qi or yang qi deficiency in your body.

Frozen Shoulder Pain Relief

Before you decide to visit a TCM practitioner, you can try to use Chinese herbs for frozen shoulder pain relief. Some Chinese herbs have been used for centuries as pain reliever in Chinese medicine. Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis) has been traditionally used for pain relief. Many studies suggest that Yan Hu Suo can block inflammation and nerve pain. It contains a pain-relieving compound called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), which is believed to produce pain-relieving effects similar to prescription drugs by blocking pain signals in the brain (2). Jiang Huang (Turmeric) has been traditionally used to reduce joint pain in Chinese medicine. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help to relieve arthritis pain, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder and joint pain (3).

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