Frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis and is characterized by inflammation and adhesions that restrict movement and cause pain of the shoulder. Classically frozen shoulder pain gets worse at night. There may possibly be a history of an injury to the shoulder such as an infraspinatus tear, but commonly there has just been a gradual onset of symptoms.
Commonly, there are three phases:
1.Pain with stiffness
2.Less pain, severe stiffness
3.Minimal pain, gradual increase in mobility
Without treatment, the shoulder usually gets better but it can take up to 3 years to fully resolve but commonly can resolve itself in 18 months.
Western medicine has little to offer for treatment. In fact, nearly 30 years ago the Department of Rheumalogy Research in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, concluded that there is little long term advantage in using any of the treatments available at the time which were intra-articular steroids, mobilizations and ice therapy. Surprisingly, these are still the methods of treatment used today, 30 years later by doctors and physiotherapists.
Acupuncture on the other hand has had over 2000 years experience of treating frozen shoulder. In desperation, many patients have sought acupuncture therapy in the rehabilitation of frozen shoulder after failure of steroid injections and a worsening of the condition after aggravation from the physiotherapy exercises and mobilization procedures.
Modern research has also confirmed the efficacy in the role of acupuncture in frozen shoulder. In fact, as quoted from a recent Hong Kong Medical Journal
This study provides additional data on the potential role of acupuncture in the treatment of frozen shoulder, particularly for those patients not responding well to conventional therapy.