Healing Shoulder Injuries with Acupuncture

            Shoulder injuries are common and painful, especially in the winter ski season.  Many skiers fall with their ski pole out to the side of their body, straining the shoulder joint.  Also, the four muscles of the rotator cuff are overused in many winter activities causing weakness in the joint and limited range of motion.  Left untreated, these relatively minor injuries will lead to more stubborn problems, and sometimes cause a need for surgical repair.  Acupuncture can effectively treat these shoulder pains and heal the shoulder before surgery becomes a possibility.

            The four muscles of the rotator cuff provide the shoulder joint with strength and stability.  That is if they are all healthy and functioning to their full range of motion.  A number of minor falls or accidents can lead to shortening of these muscles, tendonitis in the shoulder, or shoulder impingement.  These four muscles are the supraspinatous, infraspinatous, subscapularis, and teres.  The two most often injured are the supraspinatous and infraspinatous.

            The supraspinatous muscle causes most shoulder pain complaints.  Injury can be caused by swimming, throwing overhead during football or softball, painting, a fall skiing or too much work on a computer.  There is usually achy pain across the shoulder radiating down the arm.  Certain movements, such as reaching back to put on a coat or lifting arms overhead, will cause sudden sharp pains.  This indicates that the muscle has an acute strain and the tendon is being impinged under the bony part of the shoulder, the acromium.

            This type of injury, left untreated, will most likely get worse with continued use.  The tendon will get further irritated and the whole shoulder joint inflamed.  Pain will become more severe and constant.  Range of motion will be limited, and raising the arm overhead will be increasingly difficult. 

            Acupuncture can stop this pattern from progressing and heal the supraspinatous muscle and tendon.  Treatment with acupuncture decreases inflammation, relieves pain, and stimulates healthy muscle tissue to grow.  By testing the range of motion after treatment, I can easily show you the improvement after each acupuncture session.

            Occasionally, the muscles around the neck will become spasmed and painful with this type of injury.  If your pain is referring up the neck to the back of the head, we can treat that too. 

            Acupuncture is a relaxing alternative treatment modality useful for many types of sports injuries.  It is simple and effective, allowing the patient to return to their favorite activities quickly.   Don’t let little annoying injuries get in the way of enjoying all our snow this season.  Come in for acupuncture and heal your body so you can have fun outdoors this winter without any pain.

Jane Matthews, Licensed Acupuncturist, specializes in treating sports injuries and chronic pain.  She can be reached at 970.470.3347 to schedule an appointment.