Discover the Top 5 Shoulder Acupuncture Points for Pain Relief

by | Mar 12, 2024 | Acupuncture

Shoulder pain can feel like you’re lugging around a heavy burden day in and day out but these 5 shoulder acupuncture points can really help alleviate that pain and provide some relief. Trust us, we understand the struggle all too well. Throughout our journey, we’ve discovered that chronic shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal complaint people deal with.

In this article, we’re diving into the top 5 acupuncture points that hold promise for easing those persistent shoulder aches. So stay tuned; better days are on the horizon!

Key Takeaways

  • Shoulder pain can come from overuse, injury, or aging. Acupuncture helps by lowering inflammation and boosting natural healing.
  • The top acupuncture points for shoulder pain are Joining Valley (LI4), Central Islet (TB3), Shoulder Well (GB21), and Wind Pool (GB20). They help with pain relief and improve joint movement.
  • To do acupressure at home, find a quiet spot, apply pressure to points with your thumb or finger in circles for 1-2 minutes. It’s safe but check with a doctor if you have severe pain after.

Understanding Shoulder Pain

skeletal view of shoulder diagram

Shoulder pain can be caused by various factors, such as arthritis or injury. Acupuncture points help alleviate shoulder pain by reducing inflammation and promoting the body’s natural healing processes.

Common Causes Of Shoulder Pain

Many people deal with shoulder pain every day. It can come from overuse, sports injuries, or just plain aging. Issues like rotator cuff injuries and frozen shoulder are common. Sometimes, it’s because of accidents that hurt our muscles or bones around the shoulder area.

Acupuncture points can help ease this pain by targeting specific areas. Let’s see how these special spots work magic for your shoulders next.

How Acupressure Points Relieve Shoulder Pain?

Acupressure points on the body can help ease shoulder pain. These special spots work by releasing tension and increasing blood flow. We find these points in areas where muscles, nerves, and connective tissues can get tight or blocked.

Pressing them gently helps to relax these spots and reduce pain.

Studies show that targeting both local and distal acupressure points can be effective for chronic shoulder pain. This method involves 12 treatments over six weeks. It aims to lower the intensity of shoulder pain, measured by a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS).

This approach is part of acupuncture’s magic—combining ancient wisdom with modern research to relieve pain without drugs or surgery.

The Top 5 Acupuncture Points for Shoulder Pain Relief

Man With Acupuncture Needles In Shoulder

Here are the top 5 acupuncture points for shoulder pain relief. These specific points can help reduce discomfort and improve flexibility in the shoulder joint by stimulating key areas on the body.

Joining Valley or Hegu – LI4

Joining Valley, or Hegu – LI4, is a powerful acupuncture point for shoulder pain relief. It’s found on your hand, between the thumb and index finger. Experts in traditional Chinese medicine believe stimulating this spot can ease pain not just in the shoulder but throughout the body.

In trials, participants got treatments at spots like LI4 to help with chronic shoulder issues. They saw improvements in how their shoulders felt and worked.

Next up is Central Islet or Zhongzhu – TB3..

Central Islet or Zhongzhu – TB3

Moving from the Joining Valley, we find our next spot – Central Islet or Zhongzhu – TB3. This point is a powerhouse for those suffering from shoulder pain. It sits on the triple energizer channel, known for tackling musculoskeletal issues head-on.

By targeting this point, you’re not just easing pain; you’re also improving shoulder function and motion range. Especially for folks with frozen shoulders or adhesive capsulitis, acupuncture here can be a real game-changer.

It doesn’t stop there. The benefits of focusing on the Central Islet are vast, helping even those with lateral epicondylalgia see short-term pain relief and strength boosts. And if surgery’s got you worried about nausea or throwing up afterward, TB3 has your back due to its ties with the pericardium channel.

So yes, alongside other points, using this one could significantly lighten your load of shoulder troubles.

Shoulder Well or Jian Jing – GB21

Moving on to the next acupuncture point, Shoulder Well or Jian Jing – GB21 is a significant acupressure point for relieving shoulder pain. In clinical trials, this specific acupoint has been identified as an effective treatment area for the improvement in shoulder function and reduction of chronic shoulder pain.

The study focuses on evaluating the efficacy of local acupoints, including Shoulder Well or Jian Jing – GB21, combined with distal acupoints in alleviating pain and enhancing shoulder function among individuals suffering from chronic shoulder pain conditions.

Participants receive a total of 12 acupuncture treatments over six weeks aiming to determine whether needling at these specific points, such as Shoulder Well or Jian Jing – GB21, provides more substantial relief compared to needling points separately.

Wind Pool or Feng Chi – GB20

Wind Pool or Feng Chi, also known as GB20, is an essential acupuncture point for relieving shoulder pain. This point is located at the base of your skull, in the hollow between the two vertical neck muscles.

Stimulating this point helps to alleviate tension headaches, migraines and neck stiffness. Additionally, it can provide relief from shoulder and upper back pain by promoting relaxation of tense muscles and improving blood circulation to the affected area.

Acupressure at GB20 not only relieves physical symptoms but also aids in reducing stress and anxiety levels often associated with chronic shoulder pain. This holistic approach targets both physical discomfort and mental well-being for a more comprehensive pain management strategy.

Another additional point

The acupuncture point, Gall Bladder 20 (GB20) or Wind Pool, is located at the base of the skull in the hollow between the two large vertical neck muscles. This point is particularly effective for relieving neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and stress.

By stimulating GB20 with acupressure or acupuncture, it can help to alleviate tension and promote relaxation in the shoulders and upper back.

Stimulating this point may also offer relief from migraines as it helps to release stiffness in the neck muscles. It’s important to ensure that this pressure point is stimulated correctly by a trained professional to avoid any adverse effects.

Always consult an experienced acupuncturist before trying these techniques on your own.

How to Perform Acupressure for Shoulder Pain Relief

Demonstration of treating the 5 acupuncture points on a womans shoulder

To perform acupressure for pain relief:

Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit or lie down.

Apply firm pressure with your thumb or index finger to the selected acupuncture points, using circular motions for 1-2 minutes.

Steps to stimulate shoulder acupuncture points

To stimulate acupuncture points, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the acupressure point on your body.
  2. Apply firm pressure with your thumb or index finger.
  3. Massage the point in a circular motion for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Breathe deeply and relax while applying pressure.
  5. Repeat the process on each identified acupuncture point.
  6. Perform this routine daily for best results.

Precautions and Side Effects of Acupuncture

Acupuncture equipment and safety gear in a clean clinic room.

Be aware of potential side effects and safety measures while performing acupuncture. To know more, keep reading!

What are the potential side effects of shoulder acupuncture?

Applying pressure to acupressure points can cause bruising and slight dizziness. It’s essential not to use acupressure on open wounds, swollen or red areas, as it might worsen the condition.

As with any treatment, one should consult a doctor if experiencing severe pain or worsening of symptoms after applying acupressure for shoulder pain relief.

This approach has been shown to result in mild side effects like bruising and dizziness; however, it may exacerbate certain conditions such as open wounds or inflamed areas. Therefore, seeking medical advice in case of persistent discomfort is advisable.

Safety measures while performing shoulder acupuncture

To ensure safe acupuncture sessions, here are important safety measures:

  1. Only qualified and licensed acupuncturists with a minimum of three years of experience should perform acupuncture.
  2. Maintain a sterile environment by using disposable needles and ensuring proper sanitation of equipment.
  3. Thoroughly assess the patient’s medical history to identify any potential contraindications for acupuncture.
  4. Educate patients about the procedure and manage their expectations regarding treatment outcomes.
  5. Continuously monitor patients during and after the procedure for any adverse reactions or side effects.
  6. Adhere to ethical standards and regulations set forth by relevant healthcare authorities to ensure patient safety.

FAQs about Shoulder Acupuncture

Can anyone try shoulder acupuncture? What are the potential side effects of shoulder acupuncture? Are there any precautions one should take before getting shoulder acupuncture? How long does it take to see results from shoulder acupuncture? Will my insurance cover the cost of shoulder acupuncture treatments?

What is the expected duration for an average session of shoulder acupuncture therapy and how often should it be repeated?


Acupuncture is an effective way to ease shoulder pain. The top 5 acupuncture points for relief are Joining Valley (LI4), Central Islet (TB3), Shoulder Well (GB21), Wind Pool (GB20), and an additional point.

To perform acupressure, stimulate these points with caution and know the potential side effects. Acupuncture treatment combined with local and distal acupoints shows promising results in relieving chronic shoulder pain.


1. What are shoulder acupuncture points?

These points, located around your shoulder, scapula,, and upper arm, offer relief from pain through targeted pressure or needles.

2. Can acupuncture help my shoulder pain?

Yes! Acupuncture targets specific areas—like the teres minor and supraspinatus muscle—to ease various types of pain, including rotator cuff injuries and tendinitis.

3. How does Family Wellness Acupuncture in Irvine use these points?

Ryoko Takayama and her team focus on these key spots to reduce swelling,, improve mobility,, and enhance overall health-related quality of life for those suffering from musculoskeletal disorders.

4. Is this treatment backed by research?

Absolutely,—scientific studies,, including randomized controlled trials,,, systematically review the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

5. Will I feel better right away after trying these top 5 points?

While many experience immediate relief,, others may need a few sessions to see significant improvements—it varies person to person.

6. Are there any additional benefits besides pain relief?

Besides tackling pains; acupuncture can also provide relaxation,,,,reduce stress,,,and support recovery from sports or overuse injuries—boosting your overall wellbeing.



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