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  • Writer's pictureYong Kang TCM

Say Goodbye to Frozen Shoulder Pain with TCM – Experience True Relief

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that affects the shoulder joint. It is characterized by stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion in the shoulder. The condition occurs when the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint thickens and tightens, causing inflammation and pain. Over time, the shoulder joint can become "frozen," making it difficult to move the arm and shoulder.

Frozen shoulder typically progresses through three stages:

  1. Freezing stage: This is the initial stage where you may experience increasing pain and stiffness in the shoulder. The pain can be severe, especially at night, and it may be difficult to sleep on the affected side. The range of motion in the shoulder joint is limited during this stage.

  2. Frozen stage: In this stage, the pain may begin to subside, but the shoulder joint becomes even more stiff and difficult to move. Everyday activities, such as reaching for objects or getting dressed, become challenging.

  3. Thawing stage: During this stage, the range of motion in the shoulder joint gradually improves, and the pain begins to subside. The recovery period can last from several months to a year or more.

Some risk factors that may contribute to the development of frozen shoulder include age, gender (it's more common in women), previous shoulder injury or surgery, diabetes, thyroid problems, or Parkinson's disease, and certain medical conditions that affect the endocrine system or immune system. It can also occur after a shoulder injury or surgery, or as a result of prolonged immobilization of the shoulder joint.

Some general do's and don'ts for managing frozen shoulder:


  • Do gentle stretching exercises to help increase range of motion in the shoulder joint. Consult with a physical therapist or healthcare provider for guidance on appropriate exercises.

  • Apply ice packs or heat pads to the shoulder to help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as directed by your healthcare provider.

  • Practice good posture to help improve shoulder mobility and reduce strain on the shoulder joint.

  • Use TCM therapies, such as acupuncture or AWT, to help relieve pain and improve range of motion.

  • Get plenty of rest and avoid activities that aggravate the shoulder joint.


  • Don't engage in activities that require repetitive or forceful arm movements, such as lifting heavy objects or playing sports.

  • Avoid sleeping on the affected side as this can cause further pain and stiffness.

  • Don't ignore pain or discomfort in the shoulder as it can worsen if left untreated.

  • Don't rely solely on medication for pain relief without seeking other forms of treatment.

  • Don't attempt to self-diagnose or treat frozen shoulder without consulting with a healthcare professional.

If you do things that you shouldn't do for a frozen shoulder, it can worsen the condition and prolong the healing process. Here are some possible consequences:

  1. Increased pain and discomfort: Doing activities that aggravate the shoulder joint can cause increased pain and discomfort, making it harder to move your arm and shoulder.

  2. Stiffness and reduced range of motion: Repetitive or forceful arm movements can worsen the stiffness in the shoulder joint and reduce the range of motion.

  3. Delayed healing: Engaging in activities that put strain on the shoulder joint can slow down the healing process and make it harder to recover from frozen shoulder.

  4. Increased risk of injury: Doing activities that put excessive strain on the shoulder joint can increase the risk of further injury, such as rotator cuff tears or shoulder dislocation.

  5. It's important to follow the advice of your healthcare provider and avoid doing things that can worsen your condition. This will help ensure that you make a full recovery and regain full range of motion in your shoulder.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a variety of treatments that can help manage frozen shoulder. Here are some TCM treatments that may be helpful:

  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a TCM treatment that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote healing. It has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and improving range of motion in people with frozen shoulder.

  • Cupping: Cupping involves placing special cups on the skin to create suction, which can help improve blood flow and reduce pain and inflammation. Cupping may be helpful in managing frozen shoulder symptoms.

  • Chinese herbal medicine: Chinese herbal medicine uses natural herbs and plants to promote healing and balance in the body. There are many different herbs that may be beneficial in managing frozen shoulder, depending on the specific symptoms and underlying causes.

  • Tuina: Tuina is a type of Chinese massage that involves applying pressure and manipulation techniques to the body's soft tissues. Tuina can help improve circulation, reduce pain, and improve range of motion in the shoulder joint.

  • Acoustic Wave Therapy (AWT): AWT help in the treatment of frozen shoulder by promoting tissue healing, reducing inflammation, and improving blood flow to the affected area.


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