Of all the problems that happen at the shoulder, issues with the rotator cuff are the most common.
The rotator cuff is actually made up of four muscles that connect the ribs, shoulder blade, and humerus – the bone of the upper arm (see the image for the four muscles). They allow the shoulder to rotate outward and inward, to bring the arm away from the body, and to help stabilize the shoulder when lifting or performing other movements with the arm. With improper use or chronic overuse, the tendons attaching the muscles of the rotator cuff can begin to fray, tear, or completely rupture, causing progressive chronic shoulder pain and weakness.
Rotator cuff tendinitis, the most common problem, presents as a bout of sudden shoulder pain that changes slowly into a chronic achy state. A person typically will have weakness when trying to move the shoulder and use the muscles of the rotator cuff for support. A similar (if more aggravating) condition is called calcific tendinitis, which is where the tendons of the rotator cuff begin to collect bone deposits. This condition will resolve on its own given enough time, though some dietary changes may help speed it along, and acupuncture can be used in the short-term for pain management and to help speed bone resorption.
Acupuncture works great to treat chronic shoulder pain and immobility of any of the rotator cuff muscles when the tendons for those muscles fray or tear. Acupuncture is used around the shoulder and the tendon attachments to stop pain, reduce inflammation, encourage reabsorption of the frayed portion of tendons, and promote circulation to the tendons to ensure they are recovering at their best. When used along with exercises to strengthen & stabilize the shoulder, acupuncture can be used to resolve any partial tears of the rotator cuff.
If a tendon is fully torn, surgery is necessary. In these cases acupuncture can be used to help shorten post-operative recovery time by breaking up unwanted scar tissue and helping reduce inflammation and pain at the surgical site.
If you have been suffering from rotator cuff problems, the earlier you act to strengthen and support the shoulder, the better your chances are for a pain-free joint. Delay can be very costly. We urge you to schedule a consultation to speed up your road to full health.