The shoulder girdle is a complex joint consisting of three bones: the clavicle (collar bone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (long upper arm bone). The bones attach at four different joint articulations. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket, which allows for the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. This makes the shoulder prone to injury because the surrounding muscles that allow for shoulder movement need to be free, while, at the same time, the muscles required to stabilize the scapula need to be strong and working correctly.
The scapula (the shoulder blade) provides a stable base that allows for a huge range of motion of the shoulder. Scapula stability depends on the coordinated activity of 17 muscles that work together to ensure correct positioning throughout the shoulder complex as the arm moves.
If the scapular stabilization muscles are weak, this affects the positioning and mechanics of the shoulder complex, leading to pain, dysfunction, and injury of the shoulder and neck. Due to the weakness, the power muscles must compensate to stabilize the scapula. These muscles will get overworked and tight because they are not meant to stabilize.
Scapular instability has been linked to rotator cuff (important shoulder muscle group) problems, joint instability, and other shoulder injuries.
Causes of shoulder pain
Acute trauma from a car accident, sports injury, or fall
Chronic conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tendonitis
Trigger points in neck and shoulder muscles
Acupuncture for shoulder pain
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for shoulder pain. It can help reduce inflammation, increase range of motion, release muscle tension, and relieve pain. Motor point acupuncture can activate weakened stabilizing muscles of the scapula and loosen muscles that are overworking from compensation patterns.
Some shoulder pain can be caused by trigger points in the neck and shoulder muscles. Acupuncture is a helpful tool for releasing these muscle knots, which can contribute to shoulder pain and restricted range of motion in the shoulder joint.
Below is an example of a trigger point in the infraspinatus muscle (one of the rotator cuff muscles). As you can see from the picture, the muscle is marked by the "X," and the referred pain is in red. If you have trigger points in this muscle, it can refer pain to your lateral and anterior shoulder, and you can also experience pain down your arm into your fingers.
Are you curious if acupuncture can help your shoulder pain?
You can schedule a free 15-minute consultation to see if acupuncture can help with your shoulder pain or book online. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us.