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Holistic Relief for Shoulder Pain Through Acupuncture and Classical Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture for shoulder pain

Shoulder pain is a pervasive issue that can result from a variety of causes, ranging from sports injuries to emotional stress. It can significantly impede daily activities and diminish one's quality of life. While conventional treatments like pain medication and physical therapy offer temporary relief, many individuals seek alternative therapies for lasting solutions. Classical Chinese Medicine presents a holistic approach to shoulder pain management, employing techniques such as acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, moxibustion, and acupressure, along with lifestyle changes like practicing qigong. These modalities target the root causes of pain and aim to restore balance within the body.

Understanding Different Types of Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can manifest in diverse ways, necessitating tailored treatment approaches:

  1. Emotional Stress-Related Pain: At Acupuncture Surrey we often see emotional causes as the root of shoulder pain - something that Western Medicine doctors can often miss. According to Chinese Medicine philosophy, emotional destress can manifest as physical pain, including tension in the shoulders and even frozen shoulder. Acupuncture and acupressure can help release tension and rebalance energy flow, addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of pain.

  2. Sports Injuries: Athletes frequently experience shoulder pain due to overuse or sudden impacts. Acupuncture, cupping, and moxibustion can reduce inflammation and stimulate the body's natural healing mechanisms, expediting recovery.

  3. Wear and Tear: Chronic shoulder pain resulting from wear and tear over time can benefit from a combination of acupuncture, moxibustion, and acupressure. These modalities promote joint mobility, alleviate inflammation, and nourish surrounding tissues, fostering internal healing processes.

  4. Postural Problems: Poor posture can strain muscles and ligaments surrounding the shoulder joint, leading to discomfort. At Acupuncture Surrey we are seeing this more and more as our patients work more from home with sub-optimal office set ups. Acupuncture and acupressure techniques target specific points to release tension in affected muscles and realign the body, relieving pressure on the shoulders.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Techniques for Shoulder Pain Relief

  1. Acupuncture: By inserting thin needles into specific points along the body's meridians, acupuncture stimulates energy flow and promotes healing. For shoulder pain, acupoints such as Jianjing (GB 21), Jianyu (LI 15), and Jianzhen (SI 9) are commonly targeted to relieve tension and enhance range of motion. That said, each case is unique and our acupuncturists will work to identify the key points to use to work on your shoulder pain.

  2. Cupping: Cupping therapy creates a vacuum effect on the skin, promoting blood circulation and reducing muscle tension. Increased circulation to the shoulder area alleviates pain and stiffness associated with various shoulder conditions.

  3. Gua Sha: Gua sha involves scraping the skin to improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation. This technique is effective for releasing muscle knots and tension in the shoulders, providing immediate pain relief.

  4. Moxibustion: Moxibustion involves burning mugwort herb near acupuncture points to stimulate energy flow and enhance healing. By applying moxibustion to specific acupoints associated with shoulder pain, such as Jianjing (GB 21) and Jianyu (LI 15), practitioners can alleviate discomfort and promote recovery.

Acupressure, Qigong, Warmth and Lifestyle Advice for Shoulder Pain Management

In addition to professional treatments, individuals experiencing shoulder pain can integrate acupressure techniques, qigong exercises, and lifestyle modifications into their daily routine for long-term relief.

  1. Self-Acupressure: Apply gentle pressure to acupoints such as Jianjing (GB 21) [do not use in pregnancy], Jianyu (LI 15), and Tianzong (SI 11) to alleviate shoulder pain and tension. Hold each point for 1-2 minutes while taking deep breaths to enhance relaxation.

  2. Qigong: Practice qigong exercises to improve energy flow, reduce stress, and promote relaxation. Our sister company, Tai Chi & Qigong Surrey offer a range of different shoulder focussed qigong exercises from the Taijiwuxigong system. Please do ask your practitioner about these or email Nicci at for more information.

  3. Stretching and Exercise: Incorporate shoulder stretches and strengthening exercises into your routine to improve flexibility and stability, reducing the risk of future injuries. Focus on movements that target shoulder muscles, such as shoulder rolls and arm circles. Please be sure to check any exercises you do with your doctor of physiotherapist.

  4. Maintain Good Posture: Practice proper posture throughout the day to avoid straining muscles and ligaments surrounding the shoulders. Utilize ergonomic chairs and equipment to support your spine and shoulders while working or studying and take care to position your lap top correctly.

  5. Stress Management: Implement stress-reduction techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises to alleviate emotional tension. Managing stress can prevent shoulder pain triggered by emotional factors and enhance the effectiveness of Chinese Medicine treatments.

  6. Warmth: Applying warmth to the affected shoulder can help relax muscles, increase blood flow, and reduce pain. Use heat packs or warm towels to gently soothe the area and alleviate tension.

Shoulder pain can stem from various physical and emotional factors, necessitating a comprehensive treatment approach. Classical Chinese Medicine offers a range of modalities, including acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, moxibustion, acupressure, and qigong, to address the underlying causes of pain and promote healing. By integrating these techniques and lifestyle modifications into your wellness routine, you can experience relief from shoulder pain and restore harmony to your body and mind.

If you're struggling with shoulder pain, consider consulting with a qualified acupuncturist to explore personalized treatment options tailored to your needs.

At Acupuncture Surrey we operate a private clinic in Redhill and a community multibed clinic in Merstham. If you'd like to find out more please do email us at

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