In Chinese Medicine, frozen shoulder is called “Fifties Shoulder” because it often affects people over that age, when their energy is declining through a weakening of Yang-Qi. According to Chinese Medicine theory, water in the body can congeal into Dampness which stagnates in the shoulder joint. It can also result from a physical injury or trauma which leads to local stagnation of Qi and Blood.
Frozen shoulder usually starts with inflammation of the tendons in the joint, or inflammation of the joint itself. There is a complex network of muscles and bone at the shoulder, because of the wide range of movements which the arms constantly have to perform.
Movement becomes extremely painful in a frozen shoulder, if not impossible, but it is important to try to keep the joint moving, otherwise the stiffness and pain will worsen and can result in permanent damage.
Standard Western treatment involves reducing movement to limit pain, and using anti-inflammatory medicines such as Ibuprofen or steroid injections. Physiotherapy exercises may also be recommended.
Treating Frozen Shoulder with TCM
Acupuncture is the most effective treatment for frozen shoulder, and is often combined with tuina massage. They can both can be effective individually, but generally yield better results when used together. Herbal medicine can also be prescribed, with herbs such as Gui Zhi (Ramulus Cinnamomi), Jiang Huang (Rhizoma Curcumae Longae), Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri), Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong) and Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis) commonly used in clinic.
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