Acupuncture – The shoulder

Needling sites:

  • – Coracoid process (Lung 1)
  • – Groove of long head of biceps
  • – Supraspinatus tendon (sst)
  • – “Hansen 1” (2-3 cm below med. third of spine of scapula.
  • – “Hansen 2” (infraglenoid tubercle)
  • – TPs in anterior or posterior axillary folds

These points can be used to treat various painful disorders of the shoulder – mostly so-called “frozen shoulder”. It is important to make sure It is important to make sure that this diagnostic label does not conceal a serious underlying disorder. Dr Virginia Camp, a rheumatologist who uses acupuncture, found in the course of 5 years 12 patients with a diagnosis of frozen shoulder who had serious disease: 8 had cancer of various kinds and another had leukaemia.

Acupuncture seems to help about a third of patients with frozen shoulder; physiotherapy, injection plus NSAIDs, and placebo have similar levels of effectiveness. Acupuncture is worth a trial but is not worth persevering with if it doesn’t work.

The common sites for TPs in this region are – in addition to those described for the neck – the coracoid process and the anterior groove of the humerus containing the tendon of the long head of the biceps. For patients whose shoulder shows the rotator cuff syndrome it is worth deep needling of the supraspinatus tendon (this is similar to the technique used for injecting the shoulder joint).

Posture may contribute to rotator cuff tendinitis; avoid working over shoulder level. The supraspinatus tendon is forced under the coraco-acromial arch during elevation of the arm. Reduced blood flow to the tendons due to static muscle contraction may help to cause tendon degeneration.

Repetitive movement of the shoulder may cause rotator cuff tendinitis.

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