Southwest Austin and Blanco Acupuncture

Acupuncture for Shoulder Pain: A Tale of Two Needles

Do you suffer from shoulder pain? If so, acupuncture can help relieve acute or chronic shoulder pain caused by injury or overwork. Recently, I treated a patient with shoulder pain. We tried a variety of approaches, but it was two points… two needles that really made the difference.

I saw “Bob” at my monthly community clinic. He told me that since December, he had not been able to lift his arm above his shoulder. I had worked his shoulder before, only making a small change. My treatment choice was the tight Hua Tuo Jia Ji points. These are basically in the para vertebral points, aka the erectors. Next, I chose points in the scapular region, which is the Small Intestine meridian.

I consider shoulder issues to be a local treatment in acupuncture. For Bob, I used the muscle region in the Taiyang. Below are examples of the upper and lower Taiyang muscle regions.


Small Intestine Hand Taiyang Muscle Region

Urinary Bladder Foot Taiyang Muscle Region

If a person has a healthy Taiyang, they should be able to stretch the arms above their head and lift to the sky. Something like the photo below, but imagine it with the arms higher stretching into a V shape.

In Bob’s case, he was already seeing a chiropractor and had been evaluated for such things as bursitis, rotator cuff tear, frozen shoulder, etc. As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, it is my job to use my special set of eyes to only look in the framework and diagnostic methods of Chinese Medicine theory in finding the problem. My trying to be a western doctor and using western assessments is not my specialty. Patients come to me for the answers that no one else can offer them. And you will see soon… it works!

After treating Taiyang, we did not make any progress in treating his shoulder pain. While we relieved some pain, his range of motion remained about the same. This is where it gets confusing to patients new to acupuncture, especially when working with pain. What I learned in treating a local Taiyang treatment was that the problem was not in Taiyang. In fact, the problem was not in his shoulder. I then looked at his elbows and knees.

Think of it this way…

You are physically standing by a river. When you are at the river you cannot see where the source of the river comes from. Fly over the river and you can see numerous rivers and lakes connected. Fly even higher and you can see all rivers connected. This is why I can treat the elbow or the knee to treat shoulder pain.

In Bob’s case, I chose the Large Intestine Hand Yang Ming channel or Large Intestine 11 on the opposite arm.

I pressed on it with my finger and asked Bob to move his arm and he was able to move it above his head, but still had some pain in the front of the shoulder. I decided to try a Yin channel and chose Spleen Foot Taiyin or Spleen 9. All of a sudden the arm lifted easily and without pain.


In the end, it came down to two needles to make the change. Remember: acupuncture can treat shoulder pain. If you are suffering, don’t wait! Call me today for a FREE consultation.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *