If you’re a manual laborer who’s constantly lifting heavy loads, or an athlete who spends every afternoon on the tennis courts, then you’re probably no stranger to shoulder pain. Sprains, frozen shoulder, and scar tissue left behind from rotator cuff surgery can severely limit your range of motion — to say nothing of the discomfort these injuries can cause. If you’re tired of struggling with shoulder pain, you may be wondering, does acupuncture for shoulder pain help, and, if so, how often should you schedule treatments?
Acupuncture stimulates the healing process in acute shoulder injuries and chronic ones alike. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may require weekly treatments for several months with periodic tune-ups afterward.
How does acupuncture help shoulder pain?
Acupuncture is an ideal alternative treatment for all sorts of musculoskeletal issues. If you’re dealing with shoulder pain, acupuncture can help you find relief by reducing inflammation and encouraging your body to repair damaged tissue.
Upon insertion, each acupuncture needle creates microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. Acupuncture also stimulates the production of nitric oxide (NO), which enhances localized blood flow to the injury site.
Better circulation enables the body to clear away pro-inflammatory cells. This reduces pain and swelling. The uptick in circulation also ensures injured tissues receive the oxygen and red blood cells they need to help them regenerate damaged tissues.
Of course, it’s worth noting that acupuncture has a direct impact on your nervous system as well. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins and other feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin. These neurotransmitters raise your body’s pain threshold and work to regulate your mood so you feel better all the way around.
What are the benefits of acupuncture for shoulder pain?
Primarily, acupuncture works by improving circulation and enhancing the body’s natural healing response. But what effect does that have on the patient, exactly? Well, with regular acupuncture sessions, you’ll notice a significant reduction in pain. For many clients, this benefit alone is enough to warrant regular acupuncture treatments.
But that reduction in pain is accompanied by other improvements, too. Acupuncture will help you increase your strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Along with proper physical conditioning, acupuncture can help you restore your physical capabilities, and even help you avoid injury in the future.
How often will you need acupuncture for shoulder pain?
Every patient is different, so it’s tough to say how long you’ll need to receive treatments. In general, patients with acute injuries and/or cases with mild symptoms will only require a brief round of acupuncture sessions. Conversely, chronic injuries and severe shoulder pain typically need more vigorous treatment.
Your acupuncturist will listen to your health history during your first appointment to get a clearer picture of your condition, and to create a treatment plan that aligns with your wellness goals. They will be able to give you a better idea of how often you’ll need treatment to resume your normal activities.
Initially, you may require weekly sessions for a period of several months. In most cases, regardless of the condition in question, whether it’s shoulder pain, back pain, sciatica, or trigger finger, it’s best to follow your treatment with periodic tune-ups every month or so, to keep your muscles in good working condition.
Is acupuncture alone enough to treat shoulder pain?
If your shoulder pain is uncomplicated, meaning it’s simply the result of a minor sprain, then, yes, acupuncture alone should be enough to provide you with relief. Acupuncture’s healing abilities are so potent that it can provide pain relief for even the most severe strains and muscle knots.
That said, if you’re dealing with severe shoulder pain that has reduced your physical performance, your acupuncturist may recommend additional therapies to help you achieve better results.
Dry needling is a process very similar to acupuncture. But rather than treat the body from a holistic perspective, it targets specific areas to reduce muscle tension and eliminate dysfunction. Dry needling can be very beneficial when used in tandem with acupuncture for treating shoulder pain.
Cupping is another therapy that may provide you relief from your shoulder pain — particularly if your shoulder pain has radiated to your back, neck, and head. This non-invasive technique utilizes small glass cups, which are arranged on the skin and create vacuums, pulling the skin up into the glass. Cupping eases tension by stimulating blood and oxygen flow to stiff muscles.
When should you get acupuncture for shoulder pain?
Chronic shoulder pain, or shoulder pain that is the result of scar tissue, can be treated at any time. In fact, the sooner you start treatments, the better! Regular acupuncture sessions can make a world of difference in patients who struggle with daily pain.
But if you’ve recently injured your shoulder, then you’ll need to wait a bit before scheduling an appointment. When we get hurt, our bodies immediately respond by increasing blood flow to the injury site. This is called the “acute phase”, and it can last anywhere from 1 to 4 days. This increase in inflammation kickstarts the body’s healing response naturally.
It’s important to give your body the time it needs to address the injury on its own before using acupuncture. Getting acupuncture too soon may do more harm than good. So, in the hours to days following a minor acute injury, it’s important to rest, apply ice, and take an anti-inflammatory to keep the pain and swelling under control.
Once the acute phase has passed, you can schedule an acupuncture appointment to promote a speedy recovery.
Booking your first acupuncture appointment
Still have questions and concerns regarding acupuncture? If you want to know more about this centuries-old therapy and how it has the potential to improve your day-to-day life, contact our office today. Our friendly staff will be happy to address any concerns you may have and to help you get started on your path to wellness.
At Orlando Alternative Health, we understand that each of our patients is unique. With years of experience treating patients from all walks of life, we’re ready to help you tackle all of your health challenges. Book your appointment today and experience firsthand the many spectacular benefits acupuncture has to offer!