Shoulder impingement occurs when the front of the shoulder blade rubs against the rotator cuff causing irritation and pain. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilizes the shoulder and permits lifting and rotating movements. If the rotator cuff weakens or is injured, the bone of the upper arm (humerus) can lift up, pinching the rotator cuff against the shoulder blade. The muscles can then swell further, creating a cycle of pain and weakness that worsens over time. Shoulder impingement is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain and occurs more frequently in athletes who lift their arms overhead, such as swimmers, baseball players and tennis players.
Traditional treatment usually includes anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections, however, acupuncture is an effective treatment option for shoulder impingement, without the side-effects of medication. Acupuncture can reduce inflammation and help to manage the pain associated with shoulder impingement.
Benefits of Acupuncture
Acupuncture treatment for shoulder impingement focuses on alleviating pain, decreasing inflammation, and restoring range-of-motion and strength to the shoulder. Acupuncture treatments focus on eliminating the source of pain, unlike medications that temporarily mask symptoms. Acupuncture works to relieve the impingement or structural alteration within the tissues and nerves, reducing the swelling and pain associated with shoulder impingement. Acupuncture is a safer alternative to medication, as there are no side effects and no negative interactions with other treatments.
The Acupuncture Method
The acupuncture points used to treat shoulder impingement stimulate the underlying muscles, tendons and ligaments to promote healing. Acupuncture helps trigger powerful muscle relaxation and anti-inflammatory responses in the shoulder muscles and tendons. Fine needles are inserted into the skin and they may be manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. Patients with shoulder impingement may also experience symptomatic relief from cupping, gua sha or acupressure techniques.