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Do you know the risk of developing frozen shoulder? Discover how TCM can help

Updated: Apr 29

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. While the exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown, there are several risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood of developing this condition.


People who have certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disease, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, are at a higher risk of developing frozen shoulder. This is likely due to the fact that these conditions can cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to thickening and tightening of the shoulder joint capsule.

In addition, people who have had a shoulder injury or surgery, stroke, heart attack, or prolonged immobilization due to bed rest or a cast are also at increased risk for developing frozen shoulder. These factors can lead to decreased shoulder movement and function, which can ultimately lead to the development of frozen shoulder.


While frozen shoulder can affect people of all ages, it is most commonly seen in individuals between the ages of 40 and 65, and women are affected more often than men. However, there are cases where younger men and women, without any known risk factors, develop frozen shoulder.


It is important to note that not everyone who has one or more of these risk factors will develop frozen shoulder. However, if you are experiencing shoulder pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion, it is important to see a healthcare professional for evaluation and treatment. Early intervention can help prevent the progression of the condition and improve outcomes.


Early symptoms of frozen shoulder

The early symptoms of frozen shoulder can be subtle and may worsen gradually over time. The initial stage is typically characterized by a dull ache or pain in the shoulder joint that can be felt when moving the arm or reaching overhead. The pain may worsen at night, and individuals may find it difficult to sleep on the affected side.


As the condition progresses, the shoulder joint may become stiffer, and it may become increasingly difficult to move the arm. This can make it difficult to perform everyday activities such as reaching for objects, lifting, or even getting dressed. As the shoulder becomes more and more immobile, it may begin to feel like it is "frozen," hence the name "frozen shoulder."


In some cases, frozen shoulder may resolve on its own without treatment. However, in other cases, the condition may persist and become more severe over time, leading to chronic pain and disability. Early recognition of the symptoms and prompt treatment can help prevent the condition from worsening and improve overall outcomes.


There are various TCM ways to release frozen shoulder. Here are a few examples:

  1. Acupuncture: This involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and relieve pain. Acupuncture can help to reduce inflammation, improve blood circulation, and release muscle tension in the shoulder.

  2. Tuina Massage: This is a type of Chinese therapeutic massage that involves kneading, rolling, and pressing on the body's acupoints and muscles. Tuina massage can help to relieve muscle tension and pain, improve blood circulation, and reduce inflammation in the shoulder joint.

  3. Cupping Therapy: This involves placing cups on the skin to create suction, which helps to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. Cupping therapy can be especially effective in releasing the fascia, or connective tissue, around the shoulder joint, which can help to improve range of motion.

  4. Herbal Medicine: TCM herbal medicine can be used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain in the shoulder joint. Some commonly used herbs for frozen shoulder include angelica root, safflower, and frankincense.


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