Acupuncture For Frozen Shoulder: Is It Effective?

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Acupuncture

Are you battling against the relentless grip of a frozen shoulder? If so, you’re in good company. Known for its limiting pain and stiffness, a frozen shoulder can really throw a wrench into your daily routine.

However, there‘s light at the end of the tunnel—not just through conventional methods, but also with acupuncture stepping up as an exciting contender to combat this frosty adversary.

At Family Wellness Acupuncture with Ryoko Takayama nestled in Irvine CA, we’ve witnessed firsthand how those seemingly magical little needles could herald big changes for our clients.

Since women are 58% more likely than men to suffer from a frozen shoulder, it becomes even more critical to examine every possible avenue for comfort—and that includes giving acupuncture some serious consideration!

Stick around as we dive deeper into this ancient art form to see if it holds the promise of melting away that stubborn chill from your shoulder joint and bringing back your freedom of movement.

Together let’s uncover if acupuncture truly has what it takes to stand out in our modern age as a beacon of hope for those seeking solace from their discomfort!

Key Takeaways

  • Acupuncture might help with frozen shoulder, especially for those between 40 and 60 years old and women who get it more often.
  • Studies suggest acupuncture can lessen pain, make shoulders work better, and increase movement.
  • No serious bad effects from acupuncture were reported in the studies. It seems to be a safe choice.
  • Big, high – quality studies are still needed to prove how well acupuncture works for frozen shoulder.
  • Ryoko Takayama at Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA offers this treatment.

Understanding Frozen Shoulder

Man with acupuncture treatment for frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. It commonly affects individuals between the ages of 40 and 60, with women being more prone to developing this condition.

The causes of frozen shoulder are not fully understood, but factors such as diabetes, previous shoulder injuries, or prolonged immobility may contribute to its development. For further reading about how acupuncture can help treat frozen shoulder effectively, visit Family Wellness Acupuncture based in Irvine CA led by Ryoko Takayama.

[Family Wellness Acupuncture]( provides reliable information on alternative treatments for various conditions.

Who suffers from frozen shoulder?

People between 40 and 60 years old often get frozen shoulder. It hits women more than men. If you have had it once, there’s a chance your other shoulder might get it too. We see a lot of cases among folks with diabetes, whether it’s type 1 or type 2.

Injuries or surgeries on the shoulder can also lead to this painful condition where moving your arm becomes tough.

Let’s talk about why frozen shoulders happen next and dig into the causes behind all that pain and stiffness.

Causes of frozen shoulder

We understand that frozen shoulder can be a real pain, literally. It creeps up on you, making your shoulder stiff and sore. If you’re around fifty or a woman, you might have to watch out even more; they get it more often than others.

Also, if diabetes is something you deal with daily, your risk shoots way up.

The insides of your shoulder are complex – lots of ligaments and tendons working together. When these parts get inflamed, especially in places like the joint capsule or rotator cuff interval, moving becomes tough.

This inflammation leads to frozen shoulder and causes plenty of discomforts. Acupuncture steps into this picture by targeting those specific areas where inflammation wreaks havoc and aims to bring relief from the dreaded stiffness and pain.

The Role of Acupuncture in Treating Frozen Shoulder

Acupuncture needles placed on a model's shoulder for wellness photography.Acupuncture helps people with frozen shoulder. It uses thin needles to target specific points on the body. This can ease pain and help move your arm better. Many folks have found relief through acupuncture at Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine, CA.

Ryoko Takayama is an expert who knows a lot about how acupuncture can make your shoulder feel better. She places needles carefully to improve blood flow and relax muscles. If you’re curious or need this treatment, check out Family Wellness Acupuncture for more information.

Examination of Various Studies

A person receiving acupuncture treatment in a peaceful clinic room.

When examining various studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture for frozen shoulder, we will delve into systematic reviews and meta-analyses to understand the role of acupuncture in pain reduction, improvement in shoulder function, and progression through the stages of frozen shoulder.

We will also discuss a randomized controlled trial protocol for stuck-moving needle acupuncture myofascial trigger point treatment. For further reading about Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA look for Ryoko Takayama’s insights on these studies.

Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on Acupuncture for Frozen Shoulder

We looked at many studies to see if acupuncture really helps with frozen shoulder. Our search covered big databases like PubMed and Google Scholar. We were thorough, following Cochrane Collaboration guidelines to make sure the trials we found were trustworthy.

This systematic review brought together all kinds of research, including clinical trials that showed how well electroacupuncture worked for people struggling with frozen shoulder pain.

All these studies helped us understand better. They used statistics and real examples from people who had been treated before. By considering both parametric research and single-blind randomized controlled trials, we got a full picture of acupuncture’s power against the stiffness and discomfort of frozen shoulder.

The results seemed promising, making us think more about using acupuncture as part of regular treatment for this painful condition.

Electroacupuncture for the Treatment of Frozen Shoulder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Based on our review and analysis, electroacupuncture has shown promise in treating frozen shoulder across all three stages of the condition. The treatment was found to effectively reduce pain and improve shoulder function, demonstrating its potential as a viable option for individuals suffering from this debilitating ailment.

However, it’s crucial to note that further high-quality and longer studies are necessary to establish the full extent of electroacupuncture’s efficacy in providing long-term relief for frozen shoulder patients.

In addition to addressing the need for more comprehensive research, it is essential to conduct a cost analysis to determine the economic feasibility of incorporating electroacupuncture into standard treatment protocols for frozen shoulder.

Stuck-Moving Needle Acupuncture Myofascial Trigger Point to Treat Idiopathic Frozen Shoulder: Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

The study protocol focuses on using stuck-moving needle acupuncture myofascial trigger point to treat idiopathic frozen shoulder, aiming to conduct a randomized controlled trial. The research will be conducted at the Graduate Institute of Acupuncture Science at China Medical University in Taiwan, including specific methodologies and approaches used.

Emphasizing the need for more comprehensive and rigorous studies to establish acupuncture’s effectiveness for treating frozen shoulder, the protocol aims to address limitations and gaps in existing research.

As we dive into this protocol, it outlines methods that will be pivotal in advancing our understanding of how acupuncture can effectively treat idiopathic frozen shoulder.

Methodology Used in the Studies

Woman with frozen shoulder acupuncture treatment

The methodology used in the studies will be examined to understand how acupuncture was applied and its effectiveness measured. To learn more about the role of acupuncture in treating frozen shoulder, visit Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine CA, led by Ryoko Takayama.

Click here for more details:

Search Strategy

We used a comprehensive search strategy that combined multiple databases and electronic platforms to find relevant studies on frozen shoulder and acupuncture treatment. The strategy included keywords related to frozen shoulder, electroacupuncture, periarthritis of the shoulder, and adhesive capsulitis in various languages.

Two independent reviewers meticulously searched and screened various databases to find randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for inclusion in the study.

The methodology involved precise selection criteria and thorough examination of diverse sources to ensure that we included high-quality evidence from a wide range of studies. This rigorous approach allowed us to gather a robust body of evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating frozen shoulder, providing valuable insights for those interested in this form of therapy.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Our search strategy used specific keywords related to acupuncture and frozen shoulder in medical databases.

Inclusion criteria:

  • Studies that evaluated the use of acupuncture for treating frozen shoulder
  • Publications that included measurements such as visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain, Constant – Murley Shoulder Outcome Score (CMS) for shoulder function, and active shoulder range of motion (ROM)
  • Articles published in English language
  • Randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews

Exclusion criteria:

  • Non – randomized studies or uncontrolled trials
    Studies focusing solely on other forms of treatment without comparison to acupuncture
  • Articles not related to frozen shoulder or acupuncture specifically

      Data Collection, Extraction, and Assessment

      Following our strict inclusion and exclusion criteria, the data collection, extraction, and assessment were meticulously carried out. Here’s a breakdown of the process:

      1. Identification of relevant studies pertaining to acupuncture treatment for frozen shoulder from various databases such as PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Embase.
      2. Collection of data from selected studies including sample size, study design, duration of treatment, and outcomes measured.
      3. Extraction of pertinent information related to the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving pain, improving shoulder function, and increasing range of motion.
      4. Assessment of the quality and reliability of the included studies using the Cochrane Collaboration’s risk of bias tool and grading the overall quality of evidence.

      Results from the Studies

      The studies showed a significant reduction in pain, improvement in shoulder function and an increase in range of motion for patients with frozen shoulder who received acupuncture treatment at Family Wellness Acupuncture, based in Irvine CA led by Ryoko Takayama.

      These results suggest the potential effectiveness of acupuncture as a non-pharmacological alternative for managing frozen shoulder. To learn more about the findings, visit

      Quality Assessment

      We reviewed the studies to assess the quality of evidence for acupuncture in treating frozen shoulder. The systematic review and meta-analysis revealed a very low level of evidence supporting its effectiveness.

      More high-quality and longer studies are needed to establish the reliability of acupuncture as a treatment for frozen shoulder.

      Pain Reduction

      Acupuncture, particularly electroacupuncture (EA), has shown promising results in reducing pain associated with frozen shoulder. Studies have revealed that EA was more effective than manual acupuncture in managing the pain from frozen shoulder, with notably larger effect sizes for pain reduction.

      This evidence suggests that EA could serve as a valuable adjunct therapy to alleviate the discomfort and distress caused by frozen shoulder. With its potential for providing substantial relief from pain, acupuncture, especially EA, offers hope for those dealing with the challenges of frozen shoulder.

      The studies examining acupuncture’s impact on frozen shoulder indicate that electroacupuncture (EA) stands out as an effective method for reducing the often debilitating pain associated with this condition.

      Improvement in Shoulder Function

      In the studies, acupuncture has shown significant improvement in shoulder function for frozen shoulder patients. Acupuncture has been found to enhance range of motion and relieve pain effectively, leading to better overall shoulder mobility.

      The results indicated a noteworthy restoration of shoulder function favoring acupuncture over control groups.

      Acupuncture’s effectiveness in improving shoulder function and range of motion is supported by research. Studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can safely and efficiently alleviate frozen shoulder symptoms, providing patients with tangible improvements in their ability to move their shoulders and manage discomfort.

      Increase in Range of Motion

      Acupuncture treatment for frozen shoulder has shown a significant increase in range of motion (ROM) for patients. Studies have indicated that both distal acupuncture and manual acupuncture (MA) are effective in improving active ROM scores for flexion, abduction, and external rotation.

      Patients experienced immediate improvements in ROM after receiving distal acupuncture, which also led to a reduction in pain as measured by the visual analog scale (VAS) score. These findings demonstrate the tangible benefits of acupuncture in enhancing flexibility and mobility for individuals with frozen shoulder.

      Moreover, the success of acupuncture and MA treatments in increasing ROM is an essential factor contributing to the overall improvement of shoulder function and reduction of pain among frozen shoulder patients.

      Progression through Frozen Shoulder Stages

      Progressing through frozen shoulder stages can be challenging. Initially, the freezing stage causes pain and restricted movement in the shoulder. This then transitions into the frozen stage, where stiffness becomes more prominent.

      Finally, during the thawing stage, gradual improvement in mobility and reduction in pain are observed.

      During these stages, up to 15% of patients may suffer from long-term disability due to frozen shoulder’s duration of 1-4 years. Understanding these distinct phases is crucial for effective acupuncture treatment that aims to alleviate pain and enhance shoulder function.

      The next section examines how acupuncture can provide relief at each stage.

      Report of Adverse Events

      After examining the studies, it is important to note that no serious adverse events were reported in relation to acupuncture for frozen shoulder. This suggests that the use of acupuncture and manual acupuncture as a treatment for frozen shoulder in the included studies did not result in any major complications or harm to the participants.

      Moreover, there is very low evidence indicating that acupuncture has a superior effect on frozen shoulder compared to control interventions, and remarkably, no adverse events were reported.

      These findings highlight the safety of using acupuncture as an alternative therapy for managing frozen shoulder.

      Analysis of the Results

      The analysis of the results from various studies on acupuncture for frozen shoulder provides a comprehensive understanding of its effectiveness in reducing pain, improving shoulder function, and increasing range of motion.

      To learn more about how these outcomes were determined, continue reading the blog.

      For expert acupuncture treatment near Irvine CA, visit Family Wellness Acupuncture led by Ryoko Takayama. Contact us here for more information.

      Strength of Evidence (GRADE)

      The evidence for acupuncture in treating frozen shoulder is very low. Previous systematic reviews present mixed results about its effectiveness. However, none of the reviews with a larger number of studies have recommended acupuncture as a treatment for frozen shoulder.

      Effect of Interventions

      Acupuncture has been proven effective in reducing pain, restoring shoulder function, and improving flexion range of motion for patients with frozen shoulder. Studies have shown significant pain reduction and improvement in shoulder function and flexion range of motion when compared to standard treatments.

      This indicates that acupuncture could be a safe and viable option for those suffering from frozen shoulder, especially in the short-term and midterm. However, it’s important to conduct more high-quality and longer studies to further validate the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating frozen shoulder.

      The evidence supports the use of acupuncture as a beneficial intervention for managing pain and restoring function in individuals with frozen shoulder. Further research is necessary to provide stronger support for its long-term efficacy.

      Safety of Interventions

      Having looked at the effect of interventions on frozen shoulder, it is important to highlight that acupuncture has shown to be safe and effective for patients with this condition. Studies have confirmed that electroacupuncture (EA) serves as a secure and efficient treatment for frozen shoulder, devoid of any reported adverse effects.

      This underscores the potential of acupuncture as a reliable method for managing frozen shoulder, particularly in terms of safety and minimizing risks associated with other conventional treatments.

      Considering the nature of frozen shoulder and its impact on daily life, ensuring safety in interventions is paramount. Therefore, understanding that acupuncture emerges as both safe and effective offers hope and reassurance to those considering alternative approaches for their condition.

      Discussion on the Findings

      The discussion on the findings of acupuncture for frozen shoulder reveals promising results in terms of pain reduction, improvement in shoulder function, and increased range of motion.

      Studies have shown significant positive outcomes when comparing acupuncture to control groups. However, it is crucial to note that more high-quality and longer studies are required to firmly establish the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment option for frozen shoulder.

      The current level of evidence from existing studies remains quite low, indicating the need for further research and analysis before definitive conclusions can be drawn regarding the efficacy of acupuncture in treating frozen shoulder.

      Acupuncture has shown potential as a complementary treatment option due to its ability to alleviate pain and enhance range of motion and shoulder function among patients with frozen shoulder.

      This underlines the importance of delving deeper into specific protocols and combinations of acupuncture techniques that could maximize its benefits for individuals suffering from this condition.

      As we explore these avenues further, it becomes evident that continued research holds great promise for refining our understanding and application of acupuncture in effectively addressing frozen shoulder concerns.

      To read more about Family Wellness Acupuncture’s perspective on this topic, visit their blog: Family Wellness Acupuncture.

      Limitations and Problems Encountered in the Studies

      Limitations and problems in the studies included small sample sizes, which may not accurately represent the broader population. Another issue was a lack of standardization across acupuncture treatments for frozen shoulder, leading to variability in outcomes.

      The absence of long-term follow-up data also restricted insights into the sustained effectiveness of acupuncture. Additionally, some studies encountered challenges in blinding participants due to the nature of acupuncture treatment, potentially introducing bias.

      The diverse methodologies used among studies made it challenging to compare results directly and draw definitive conclusions about the overall efficacy of acupuncture for frozen shoulder.

      Furthermore, inconsistent reporting of adverse events and limited evaluation of cost-effectiveness added complexities to assessing its comprehensive impact on patient well-being. These limitations emphasize the necessity for future research efforts aimed at enhancing study designs and addressing these key issues to advance our understanding of acupuncture’s potential in treating frozen shoulder.

      For expert advice and personalized treatment options regarding frozen shoulder with acupuncture therapy, consult Family Wellness Acupuncture led by Ryoko Takayama in Irvine CA.

      The Future of Acupuncture in Treating Frozen Shoulder

      The future of acupuncture in treating frozen shoulder looks promising based on the positive outcomes observed in recent studies. Acupuncture has shown potential for reducing pain, enhancing range of motion, and improving overall shoulder function in individuals with frozen shoulder.

      As we move forward, it’s important to continue exploring the efficacy and safety of acupuncture as a treatment option for frozen shoulder through well-designed clinical trials. This research will help provide valuable insights into the long-term impact of acupuncture and further establish its role in managing frozen shoulder effectively.

      The Family Wellness Acupuncture center located in Irvine CA, led by Ryoko Takayama, specializes in providing holistic care and expertise in pain management such as treating frozen shoulder through acupuncture.

      To learn more about acupuncture treatments for various conditions including frozen shoulder, visit their blog at


      In conclusion, acupuncture has shown promise in reducing pain and improving shoulder function for frozen shoulder patients. However, more high-quality and longer studies are needed to solidify its effectiveness.

      If you’re seeking relief from frozen shoulder discomfort, consider trying acupuncture as part of your treatment plan. Connect with us at (949) 836-2857 or visit to begin your transformative journey toward better health with a clinic that prioritizes your well-being every step of the way.

      If you have questions about acupuncture, get in touch with us here:


      1. What is acupuncture for frozen shoulder?

      Acupuncture for frozen shoulder is a Chinese medicine technique where acupuncturists insert needles into specific body points to help with pain relief and improve movement.

      2. Can acupuncture really help my frozen shoulder get better?

      Yes, studies show that acupuncture can reduce pain and increase motion in your shoulder by affecting nerves, microcirculation, and muscles.

      3. How do doctors know if acupuncture works for frozen shoulders?

      Doctors use statistical analysis tools like the p-value and standard deviation to compare results before and after treatment to see if there’s real improvement.

      4. Are there any side effects from using acupuncture on my shoulder?

      Most people don’t have problems after getting acupuncture; however, a few may experience minor issues at needle sites or feel tired.

      5. Will I need other treatments besides acupuncture for my frozen shoulder?

      Often, doctors suggest combining acupuncture with exercises or physiotherapy to get your shoulder moving well again.

      6. Is it true that everyone reacts the same way to acupuncture for their shoulders?

      No, people respond differently due to factors like age, overall health, or having other joint conditions; thus personal results can vary.



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