Shoulder Pain Treatments With Acupuncture

Acupuncture For Shoulder Pain

Years of pulling, lifting, and throwing can cause scar tissue to develop in muscles, which affects performance and leads to shoulder pain and injuries. Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that can help alleviate pain and inflammation.

Shoulder Anatomy

The shoulder is one of the largest joints in the body. The shoulder joint is formed where the humerus fits into the scapula, which mimics a ball and socket. Since the humerus is larger than the scapula, the shoulder is not very stable and tends to be easily injured.

Tendons and muscles anchor the shoulder which adds to its stability. Because of the shoulder's structure, it has a greater range of motion than any other joint in the human body.

The coracoid, acromion, and collarbone are three bones that play a part in the function and stability of the shoulder joint.

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

shoulder muscle model labeled

Several factors and conditions contribute to shoulder pain. The most common cause is rotator cuff tendinitis, which is a condition characterized by inflamed tendons. Another common cause of shoulder pain is an impingement syndrome. This is where the rotator cuff get caught between the acromion and humeral head.

Sometimes shoulder pain can be the result of an injury that occurred to another location in your body like the neck or bicep. Generally, referred pain doesn't get worse when you move your shoulder.

Other causes of shoulder pain include:

  • Arthritis
  • Torn cartilage
  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Swelling of the bursa sacs or tendons
  • A pinched nerve
  • Dislocated shoulder

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How is Shoulder Pain Diagnosed?

Shoulder muscle model labeled

Your physician will perform a physical exam to determine the cause of your shoulder pain. He or she will feel for swelling or tenderness and will assess your range of motion and joint stability. X-rays or MRIs can produce detailed images of your shoulder, which will help with diagnosis.

Home Remedies for Shoulder Pain

To help you get immediate relief, here are a few home remedies for shoulder pain:

  • Ice it. Shoulder pain is generally caused by inflammation of the tendons. Ice is a natural remedy for inflammation because it slows down blood flow to the shoulder.
  • Keep your elbow by your side. This gives your shoulder a break. You can also use an arm slip or armrest for extreme pain, but it's not recommended for an extended period of time.
  • Strengthen your rhomboids. The muscles between your shoulders are called your rhomboids. They are essential for normal shoulder movements. Your rhomboids help hold your shoulders back, support the weight of your arms and enable you to reach, push, and pull.
  • Give your shoulders a break. Excessive exercise and overbearing weight can cause stress on your shoulders. Take it easy for a couple of days.

Acupuncture for Shoulder Pain

acupuncture shoulder pain chandler

Acupuncture for shoulder pain involves the insertion of very thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. This treatment is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is most commonly used to treat pain.

TCM believes acupuncture is a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force (known as "chi" or "qi") through pathways in your body. By inserting needles into various points along the body, your energy flow will rebalance.

Many Western practitioners believe acupuncture stimulates nerves, muscles, and connective tissue as well as boost your body's natural painkillers.

An acupuncture treatment involves three steps:

  • Needle insertion. Acupuncture needles are inserted to various depths at different points on your shoulder. When a needle reaches the correct depth, you may feel a mild aching sensation.
  • Needle manipulation. Your practitioner may either gently move or twirl the needles after placement. Or they will apply heat, pressure or mild electrical pulses to the needles.
  • Needle removal. The needles remain in place for 10 to 20 minutes while you lie still and relax. There is generally no discomfort when the needles are removed.

Acupuncture is beneficial because it relieves shoulder pain, inflammation, and range or motion impingement.

Alternative Treatments for Shoulder Pain

scar tissue and graston technique

Graston Technique is another treatment that can be used for soft tissue injuries. During a treatment, a stainless-steel instrument is guided over the skin and pulls the fibers past each other to break up scar tissue in muscles and tendons. The broken fibers release inflammatory chemicals that cause the body's repair cells to migrate to the muscle and replace the scar tissue with quality muscle fibers.

Massage Therapy is also effective to increase your range of motion. It can provide relief of tension, stiffness, and pain.


Acupuncture is a holistic treatment option for treating shoulder. It addresses the underlying causes of inflammation and improves shoulder motion.

Alpha Chiropractic and Physical Therapy provides treatment for many patients in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix, and Maricopa. Therapy and treatments for many types of conditions can be improved with a combination of acupuncture, massage therapy, and Graston Technique. Learn more about our unique Chandler Chiropractic Clinic.

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Click Here to Receive a $40 Certificate for your 1st Acupuncture Treatment and Evaluation.