Adhesive capsulitis, more colloquially know as ‘Frozen Shoulder’ is an orthopedic disorder characterized by pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. Symptoms will typically come on gradually until range of motion in the shoulder is significantly impaired and cannot occur without pain. Without treatment or intervention this can take one to three years to resolve.

This occurs over three ‘stages’ identified as freezing, frozen and thawing. The freezing stage is when shoulder range of motion starts to become limited and there is pain with all movements. The frozen stage can be characterized by increased stiffness and diminished pain. The final ‘thawing’ stage is when the shoulder begins to gain back range of motion.

This immobilization occurs when the joint capsule holding the shoulder joint in place becomes inflamed tightening around the joint itself creating pain and limiting movement. Typical treatments are NSAIDs, physical therapy and in extreme cases surgical intervention to loosen the joint capsule.

We had a new patient come to East to West Wellness center who has been suffering from frozen shoulder for a number of months and decided to try acupuncture in conjunction with physical therapy (which had helped her gain back some range of motion over the last few weeks but had come to somewhat of a plateau). This patient had severe limitation of all ranges of motion as well as discomfort that kept her up at night . With a strong treatment that included electrical stimulation and active release therapy we were able to break up some adhesions that had built up in the shoulder, disengage tense muscles and reduce inflammation.

When following up after her first treatment this patient described that she felt like a new person and the pain had significantly decreased and her range of motion improved with most movements.

-Anna Craddock, Student of Acupuncture

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