Acupuncture for Chronic Shoulder Pain PDF Print E-mail


Acupuncture: A Preferred Treatment Option in Orthopedic Medicine and Pain Management

By Dr. Barbara Briner

In a recent study J. Wofford writes that “Shoulder pain is a common clinical problem in the ambulatory setting. The one year prevalence of shoulder pain is as high as 50% in the general population, and 50% of those afflicted consult a physician. ” Bursitis, arthritis and rotator cuff injury among other common culprits plague the general population. Because use and range of motion (ROM) is affected with shoulder pain, nearly all work related activity can be affected. Unfortunately, a common and popular treatment, steroid shots, damages the tissue of the joint over time. Acupuncture can be a safe and effective alternative.

It is valuable treatment option when considering pain conditions, including chronic pain, of a musculo skeletal origin. A study in Germany explored just this topic. In 2005, a pragmatic, controlled, patient blinded multicentre trial was conducted in an outpatient environment. The study examined if acupuncture could help with chronic shoulder pain (CSP). They treated 424 patients with chronic shoulder pain for 6 weeks with acupuncture using Chinese style (verum) versus sham acupuncture and versus conservative orthopedic treatment (COT). All of the patients received 15 treatments over 6 weeks. The results show a significant increase in ROM in the shoulder (abduction and arm over head test) in the acupuncture verum group compared with the sham group and compared with the COT. The results were measured directly after treatment, and found when tested again 3 months later. Just as we have found that acupuncture is an effective therapy for shoulder pain with the clients in our clinic, the study found that Chinese acupuncture is an effective alternative to conventional orthopedic treatments for CSP.


References: Wofford, J. (2005) Patient characteristics and clinical management of patients with shoulder pain in U.S. primary care settings: Secondary data analysis of the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: PubMed Retrieved from

Molsberger, AF. (2010) German Randomized Acupuncture Trial for chronic shoulder pain: PubMed Retrieved from


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