Treat your Frozen Shoulder with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

What is Frozen Shoulder? Frozen shoulder, or it’s other name adhesive capsulitis, is a painful condition of the shoulder that also limits range of motion and use of the affected arm. In Chinese medicine, it is known as ’50 year shoulder’ as this is the most common age of onset for this condition. Let’s take a look at the Western medical views and Chinese medicine view on this problem and the treatments available.

First, Western medicine. Frozen shoulder is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. The condition begins slowly and often gets worse over time with frozen shoulder generally lasting between 1 and 3 years.
Medical conditions such as recent mastectomy, fracture or stroke may increase your risk of developing frozen shoulder, particularly if it results in arm immobility for a prolonged period of time.

Conventional treatment involves range of motion exercise, light strength training, cortisone injections and pain medications which can have some side effects. A small number of cases may have some response to surgery. As with the risks of any surgery, a more conservative approach to treatment may want to be attempted first.

Frozen shoulder typically progresses in 3 stages:

Freezing stage: Movement of the shoulder produces pain and the range of motion of the shoulder starts to reduce.
Frozen stage: The pain can sometimes abate during the frozen stage yet the range of motion may be severely limited.
Thawing stage: In this stage, the range of motion may start to improve, yet, the pain may still be present such as sleeping on the affected shoulder at night.

What causes frozen shoulder? Western medicine is not quite sure why frozen shoulder occurs yet they observe that capsule of connective tissue encasing the shoulder and it’s ligaments, tendons, muscle and bones begins to tighten and thicken around the shoulder joint and thus restricting it’s movement.

Risk factors include being over 40 and female, those with a prolonged immobility of the shoulder due to a broken arm or injured wrist for instance or those with certain systemic diseases such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, cardio vascular conditions and Parkinson’s.

From the Chinese medicine point of view, causes of frozen shoulder can include; general debility due to age, trauma and strain to the shoulder either acutely or chronically, a relationship to chronic neck problems such as cervical spondylopathy and rheumatic arthritis to name a few!

Treatment with Chinese medicine and Acupuncture can involve a few directions. Namely, promoting blood circulation, relieving pain and rigidity of the muscles, separating adhesion, activating certain meridians and acupuncture points related to the shoulder and herbs to strengthen the bodies resilience and rectify any underlying imbalances and debility. Treatment programs are designed specifically tailored to individuals where different points are used for different individuals and herb combinations are specific to dose and combinations of herbs that work best for that person.

If you are looking to treat your frozen shoulder naturally? Consider Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Fill out an inquiry form or phone (02) 9188 1560

Manual treatment for traumatic injuries by Xu Meng Zhong

Treating Endometriosis with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Endometriosis can be a debilitating condition, most often causing pain before or during the menstrual period. It can affect around 10 to 15 percent of women of childbearing age who are still menstruating and can be a common cause of infertility. What does Chinese medicine have to say about treating endometriosis?

Firstly, what is Endometriosis? It is a disorder of the uterus where the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, grows in other places such as the bladder, vagina, ovaries, bowels, rectum and even as far as the lungs or to surgical scars elsewhere in the body. It is still a mystery how this migration of endometrial tissue occurs.

Some research suggests that blood beta endorphin levels may have a contribution to endometriosis and in fact they may be significantly lower in concentrations in moderate and severe period pain compared to mild and control groups.

According to Chinese medicine theory, pain before menstruation is ascribed to a blockage of Qi ‘Chee’ (function/energy) and often manifests as breast and abdominal distension. Pain during the menstrual period pertain to Blockage of Blood which can produce more severe breast and abdominal pain. Pain after the period is usually due to insufficiency of energy and blood. In endometriosis, it is common for the pain to occur before or during the menstrual period. So considering the above, it suggests that blockage of energy or blood is a primary cause of endometriosis according to Chinese Medicine. In the clinical setting, it is common to have a combination of all of the above in different ratio’s in which a good practitioner will be able to diagnose and thus set the grounds for an effective treatment program as opposed to a one size fits all approach.

Can it be diagnosed easily ? Early detection of endometriosis can be difficult because visual abnormalities screened via pelvic examination may not be obvious. Often laparoscopy is used to make a definitive diagnosis which can discover endometrial tissue outside the uterus.

Conventional treatment often involves use of hormonal medication, surgical intervention such as laparoscopy and in severe cases, a total hysterectomy maybe offered. It has been reported, that even after hysterectomy, endometriosis may still occur.

What about natural treatment? Based on Chinese medicine theory, moving energy and blood is the preferred treatment to deal with the pain caused by endometriosis as blockage of energy and blood is the main cause. Devising a treatment strategy that is right for you involves a Chinese medicine practitioner taking a thorough case history and making a diagnosis according to the parameters of Chinese medicine discussed. Is there more energy or blood stagnation. Is there ‘cold’ in the uterus. Is the energy and/or blood deficient and to what extent. Determining these answers will provide for better results.

How long will I need treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs? Allow for at least a few months of regular treatment with Chinese herbs and acupuncture combined to produce some stability in symptoms and expect some monthly follows up from there to maintain and improve on the results gained. Endometriosis can be a stubborn problem and so consistency and compliance are key to effective treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

Are you looking for help with this problem now? Fill out an inquiry form today and get started on feeling less pain, more often.

Reference: Chinese Herbal Formulas for Women’s Wellness by Joseph Lin and Hsu Hong – Yen

What to eat in Spring?

Spring will shortly be upon us. So what to eat to keep our bodies healthy and in alignment with this season? Let’s find out…

Spring is manifested by growth, seen in the flowers and leaves, and movement – plenty of wind. Spring is also associated with the Liver, so foods that help support the Liver and it’s affinity for growth and movement in the body are ideal.

Sour foods such as lemons and olives are good to include in ones daily regimen as are foods from the ‘wood’ phase (again associated with spring and the Liver) which are green in colour such as parsley, spinach, celery, a little more fresh foods such as salads and sprouts.

Try to avoid hot and fatty foods such as deep fried foods that put a strain on the Gall bladder and Liver functions.

What’s your personality type? Water.

Do you ever feel that as life goes on, you meet people who seem similar in ways physically, behaviorally or emotionally? There may be something to your hunch.

In the sphere of Chinese medical thought, there are five major personality types with 5 divisions. These five major personality types correspond with the Chinese classification of the five elements being wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The five divisions are combinations among the five personality types for example, a wood/fire type.   All together, 25 types of people.  

Let’s take a look at the water type.

Firstly, the appearance. Water types often have a relatively big head with small and narrow shoulders and a thick waist. The hands and feet move smoothly and the upper and lower back are long. They tend to retain water and their bodies are soft and fleshy.

As for behavior, water types are superficially calm and easy going. they are creative, flexible and love change. They can at times lack self confidence and yet they can come accross as assertive. They are often fearful of natural disasters such as storms, earthquakes, floods and heights.

As for body language, or tells in the FBI!, they are smooth talkers who can diverge from the topic of discussion with ease. They love to tease and insult and can use extremely mean words when angry.

As for interests and inclinations, you might find them hanging out in lounges with dim lighting and laid back environment.  They like puzzles and games of vaious types like chess. As for food, they prefer salty and spicy foods, not caring much for foods that are sweet.

The kidney is ruled by water. Water personalities often suffer problems related to the kidneys and all that it rules (from a Chinese medicine perspective). Back pain, lack of sexual drive, menstrual difficulties can be common.  Kidney or bladder problems, poor circulation, blood pressure and blood sugar problems, water retention are also possible.

Generally speaking, we have a person who is often informal and not straightforward is easy going yet can at times complain.


Reference: Adapted from Stephen T. Chang, The Great Dao