Adhesive Capsulitis aka Frozen Shoulder

Jun 22, 2023
Acupuncture Clinic Blog - Can Acupuncture Help with That?

Frozen shoulder (officially ‘adhesive capsulitis’) is what it sounds like - and as unpleasant as it sounds as well. Your shoulder slowly becomes harder to move without pain, until eventually it’s ‘frozen’ in place. The pain is often worse at night, making it difficult to turn over in bed and disrupting your sleep. During the day, being unable to freely move your shoulder impacts work, driving, self-care, and everything in life that we use our arms for! Most people eventually recover, but it can take years. 

The official name ‘adhesive capsulitis’ describes what is happening when you develop a frozen shoulder. The protective capsule of cartilage around the shoulder joint becomes inflamed, causing thickening and scarring which stops the joint from moving normally. Frozen shoulder can happen to anyone, but the risk goes up if you have kept your shoulder immobilized for a period of time such as recovering from an injury. It also occurs more frequently in folks with diabetes or certain neurological or cardiovascular conditions, and is more common in people going through menopause, likely due to hormonal changes. 

Conventional treatment includes physical therapy, steroid injections, and rarely, surgery. Acupuncture has been studied as an effective treatment for frozen shoulder [SOURCE]. At Energy Matters, all our practitioners regularly help people with frozen shoulder experience relief.

In addition to acupuncture, your practitioner may use cupping or gua sha to loosen adhesions and promote movement. She may send you home with ‘pain patches;’ peel and stick patches infused with analgesics and healing herbs, which continue to provide relief for hours. Pain patches can be especially helpful at night to help you sleep more comfortably. Exercises to strengthen related muscles and increase range of motion are a key part of healing. Your practitioner may also prescribe herbs or supplements to reduce pain and speed up your recovery. 

Energy Matters practitioner Angela Coon says it’s helpful to think of the treatment process as ‘thawing’ the frozen joint. It took time for your shoulder to freeze, and it will take time to thaw. Pain can often be reduced quickly with acupuncture sessions, but completely restoring range of motion can take longer. Weekly sessions over 1-2 months is a common treatment plan. How fast you experience the ‘thaw’ will vary based on how long you’ve had the condition, and your body’s own individual healing. 

All our practitioners at Energy Matters are experienced in treating frozen shoulder and other types of pain. Are you experiencing frozen shoulder?

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