top of page

Is frozen shoulder the same as shoulder impingement? Chinese medicine teaches you how to analyze

Frozen shoulder and shoulder impingement are common shoulder diseases, but they are not completely the same. Frozen shoulder is usually caused by overuse, trauma, or degeneration of the shoulder, mainly manifested as shoulder joint pain and restricted movement. On the other hand, shoulder impingement is a specific type of frozen shoulder, which is more common in people over 50 years old. Its characteristics are severe shoulder pain, long duration, restricted movement, and night pain. However, the treatment methods for these two diseases are very similar and can be treated with traditional Chinese medicine techniques such as acupuncture, tuina, and cupping.

Yong Kang TCM Frozen Shoulder

Although Western medicine also provides some methods for treating frozen shoulder and shoulder impingement, such as painkillers, steroid injections, and physical therapy, these methods often only relieve pain and restore some shoulder joint function, rather than fundamentally solve the problem. In contrast, the therapeutic effect of traditional Chinese medicine on frozen shoulder and shoulder impingement is more significant and lasting because traditional Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach, focusing on regulating the internal balance of the body's yin and yang, thereby promoting natural healing of the body and fundamentally solving the problem. Therefore, if you suffer from frozen shoulder or shoulder impingement, you may wish to try traditional Chinese medicine treatment, which may have unexpected good results.


Causes of Shoulder Impingement and Frozen Shoulder

Yong Kang TCM Frozen Shoulder

The causes of shoulder impingement and frozen shoulder are complex and may be related to shoulder injuries, overuse, degenerative changes in the shoulder, muscle imbalances, and poor blood circulation. In traditional Chinese medicine theory, both shoulder impingement and frozen shoulder fall under the category of "cold dampness obstruction" and are characterized by shoulder pain, swelling, and restricted movement. Acupuncture, Tuina, and qigong are some of the methods used in traditional Chinese medicine to regulate the body's yin-yang balance, promote blood and qi circulation, and improve the condition. These traditional Chinese medicine therapies have shown good efficacy in relieving pain, restoring shoulder function, and other aspects of treatment. Additionally, traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes individualized treatment based on each patient's specific conditions.


How does traditional Chinese medicine diagnose frozen shoulder and shoulder impingement?

Yong Kang TCM Frozen shoulder

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), frozen shoulder is usually classified as "shoulder pain rheumatism" or "shoulder pain impediment" because it is caused by the invasion of cold, dampness, or wind. TCM believes that frozen shoulder is mostly caused by stagnation of qi and blood, which can manifest as shoulder pain, spasm, and limited movement. When diagnosing frozen shoulder, TCM practitioners first observe the patient's complexion, tongue quality, and tongue coating to assess the condition of their internal qi and blood. Then, they will ask about the patient's medical history and the development of their condition to further determine the severity of their illness. Through palpation, practitioners can observe the condition of the shoulder tissue to identify the cause and severity of the illness. Finally, TCM practitioners will create an individualized herbal formula based on the comprehensive analysis results, combined with acupuncture, Tuina, and other TCM treatments to regulate qi and blood, activate meridians, relieve pain, and restore shoulder function.


Similarly, TCM considers shoulder impingement to be caused by the invasion of wind, cold, and dampness into the body, leading to poor circulation of meridians and blood, causing symptoms such as shoulder pain, swelling, and stiffness. TCM practitioners diagnose shoulder impingement by observing the patient's shoulder swelling and the degree of muscle atrophy in the shoulder area, and through smelling the patient's breath, asking about the patient's condition, and palpating their pulse. Based on the patient's constitution and condition, TCM practitioners will develop an individualized treatment plan using acupuncture, Tuina, Fuyang Tou Jiu, and other methods to regulate meridians and blood, thereby relieving the symptoms of shoulder impingement and promoting recovery.


Can acupuncture treat frozen shoulder and shoulder impingement syndrome?

Acupuncture, as a traditional Chinese medicine therapy, has significant effects in treating frozen shoulder and shoulder impingement syndrome. According to Chinese medicine theory, these conditions are caused by the "pathogenic factors" of cold and dampness. These pathogenic factors tend to accumulate in the shoulder joint, leading to poor circulation of Qi and blood and resulting in symptoms such as pain and muscle stiffness. Acupuncture treatment for frozen shoulder primarily involves stimulating specific acupoints to regulate the circulation of Qi and blood, improve local circulation, promote the resolution of inflammation, and facilitate tissue repair. Acupuncture can also alleviate pain and restore muscle mobility by adjusting aspects such as Qi and blood, Yin and Yang, and the organs and meridians.


As for shoulder impingement syndrome, acupuncture can alleviate symptoms such as shoulder joint pain, stiffness, and muscle atrophy, while promoting muscle recovery and shoulder joint mobility. In Chinese medicine theory, acupuncture can regulate the balance of Yin and Yang in the body, stimulate the body's self-healing ability, and fundamentally relieve the symptoms of frozen shoulder and shoulder impingement syndrome. Additionally, acupuncture therapy is safe, free from side effects, and has become increasingly popular for treating frozen shoulder and shoulder impingement syndrome.

Frozen shoulder acupuncture


bottom of page