Tendonitis in the shoulder or a frozen shoulder/adhesive capsulitis ?

Both frozen shoulder and tendinitis cause pain and inflammation, symptoms that are often relieved with acupuncture, an ancient healing art that employs the use of sterilized needles inserted into affected areas called “points.” Although both of these conditions can resolve on their own, they often take months and sometimes up to years to do so without some type of intervening therapy.

Frozen shoulder & shoulder tendonitis

Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon. Also known as Adhesive Capsulitis, & called 50 year-old shoulder by the Japanese, which reflects the age group that typically gets it, this is pain and limitation in all directions of shoulder movement. Movement restriction is caused by inelastic scar tissue actually ‘gluing’ the rounded ball shape at the top of the arm to the socket against which it is supposed to move. It also causes the natural folds in the sleeve-like capsule around the joint to stick, preventing them from unfolding when the arm needs to move. The pain may be due to bleeding into the joint or from irritating the scar tissue by forcefully stretching it. It is not well understood but it is believed that scar tissue forms in the capsule around the shoulder joint which leads to pain, stiffness and often restricts normal movement of the shoulder. It tends to be more common in women between 40 and 60 years old.

Stages of Frozen Shoulder :

  • Stage 1 occurs from 0-3 months. It is characterized by pain with active and passive ROM. Limitation of flexion, abduction, internal and external rotation, but ROM is normal if anesthetized.
  • Stage 2(Freezing) from 3-9 months : shows further loss of ROM.
  • Stage 3(Frozen) from 9-15 months is painful at the end of range with significant limitation and rigide feel.
  • Stage 4(Thawing) from 15-24 months is minimally painful and shows progressive increased ROM.

Tests for frozen shoulder

During the physical exam, your tendonitis expert may ask you to perform certain actions, to check for pain and evaluate your range of motion. These may include : – Hands up.Raise both your hands straight up in the air, like a football referee calling a touchdown. – Opposite shoulder.Reach across your chest to touch your opposite shoulder. – Back scratch.Starting with the back of your hand against the small of your back, reach upward to touch your opposite shoulder blade. Your tendonitis expert may also ask you to relax your muscles while he or she moves your arm for you. This test can help distinguish between frozen shoulder and a rotator cuff injury. Frozen shoulder can usually be diagnosed from signs and symptoms alone. But your expert of tendonitis may suggest imaging tests — such as X-rays or an MRI — to rule out other structural problems.

Frozen shoulder treatment approach by the Tendonitis Practice

There are many different theories that an acupuncturist may use to choose the points to include in the treatment of frozen shoulder. Some prefer to use local points that are located at or near the shoulder joint. Others prefer to use distal points, that is, points that are known to have an effect on the shoulder but are located farther away from the joint, such as on the leg. The Tendonitis expert, offers a completely different system for point selection. Local points Many practitioners choose to use points located directly on the shoulder joint. There are two extra points on the front of the shoulder that may also be chosen, as well as any sore points in the area, called ashi points. Other points on the arm and hand may be added to relieve pain anywhere in the body. Distal points Some practitioners prefer the use of distal points on the lower body. In addition to being generally effective, this may be of benefit for those patients who are fearful of having needles inserted in the area where they are experiencing pain. There have been many studies done on using acupuncture in the treatment of frozen shoulder but more randomized controlled studies are needed.


A study published in the Hong Kong Medical Journal in 2001 showed that acupuncture, in combination with shoulder exercises, may offer better treatment than one of these therapies alone. British Acupuncture Council : Frozen Shoulder Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.DMay 2005 Institute for Traditional Medicine : Treatment of Frozen Shoulder Using Chinese Medicine; Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D.; May 2005


30 August 2017 - 15 h 13 min

Difference between frozen shoulder and shoulder tendonitis