Treat Capsulitis with Acupuncture

Updated: Feb 6



What’s more frustrating than not being able to do your favorite sports activities because of shoulder pain? It’s even more frustrating to not really know what is causing the pain, since it might have appeared spontaneously and not as the  result of sports injury. If you have been told that you have capsulitis or a rotator cuff problem, know that acupuncture can help you.


The retractile capsulitis of the shoulder, also called frozen shoulder, is characterized by the loss of mobility of the shoulder joint and pain that is increased during movement. In general, this problem occurs in three phases. In the first phase,  the acute pain is very strong, both day and night; In the second phase, the limitation of the amplitude of movements of the shoulder is dominant. The pain is still very present. The third phase is the recovery phase in which the pain is much less pronounced, almost absent, and the range of motion gradually returns. The recovery can happen over several months or a few years.


In Western medicine, capsulitis is usually treated with anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs, as well as with physiotherapy. Sometimes corticosteroid infiltrations will be used. Surgery is only a last resort. Rehabilitation exercises are very important and your health professional should be able to advise you on this subject.


In Chinese medicine, frozen shoulder is often referred to as the “50-year-old shoulder” since this problem often occurs in people around the age of 50. The frozen shoulder can however occur in people of all ages. According to Chinese medical theory, it can be caused by fatigue and / or overwork, circulation problems in the meridians or blood vessels, certain external pathogenic factors or a disturbance of the body’s internal balance.


Acupuncture and therapeutic manipulation techniques of tuina have been shown to be very effective in the treatment of capsulitis. They help to relax the muscles of the shoulder (including the muscles of the rotator cuff), reduce inflammation and pain, and increase the range of motion. Like many other musculoskeletal problems, the sooner you start treatment, the better the prognosis.


If you suffer from shoulder pain or limited range of motion, consult your acupuncturist promptly for proper care.