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Shoulder Pain Relief: How Acupuncture Can Help Athletes with Rotator Cuff Injuries

Shoulder pain is a common concern among athletes, especially those who do sports that involve repetitive overhead movements like swimming, tennis, baseball, and weightlifting. Within this group of athletes, rotator cuff injuries are especially prevalent. In fact, this is one of the injuries I see often at my practice, Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center. This type of injury hinders athletic performance and affects daily activities. While various treatment options are available, acupuncture is the best because it naturally promotes healing and reduces pain. In this essay, we will explore how acupuncture can be a valuable tool in the journey towards shoulder pain relief and recovery for athletes facing rotator cuff injuries.

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Asian woman has shoulder pain. Female holding painful shoulder with another hand. People with body-muscles problem, Healthcare And Medicine.

Rotator Cuff 

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and  tendons that form a cuff-like structure around the upper arm bone, or the humerus bone. These muscles play a crucial role in shoulder stability and movement.The rotator cuff is what keeps the shoulder joint in place. The four muscles that make up the rotator cuff are:

  • Supraspinatus: This muscle is in charge of lifting the arm .
  • Infraspinatus: This muscle allows the arm to rotate outward 
  • Teres Minor: This muscle works with the infraspinatus on external shoulder rotation
  • Subscapularis: This muscle enables the arm to rotate inward.

The rotator cuff is essential for different shoulder actions, including: 

  • Lifting
  • Rotating
  • Throwing 
  • Swimming
  • Serving in tennis
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Senior man at the gym suffering from pain in shoulder

Unfortunately, the rotator cuff is susceptible to injuries, particularly strains, tears, and inflammation. This is where acupuncture can come in to help and alleviate shoulder pain, weakness, and help you get back your range of motion. 

Shoulder Pain 

Shoulder Pain doesn’t only affect athletes. Let’s discuss some of the other parts of the population it affects. 

  • Elderly 
  • People with arthritis 
  • People who injure it due to overuse 
  • People with weak shoulder muscle

Common Injuries Associated with Shoulder Pain 

In addition to rotator cuff injury, there are other issues with shoulders. Let’s talk about some of the other common issues people experience. 

  • Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): Adhesive capsulitis, commonly known as frozen shoulder, is a condition where the shoulder joint becomes stiff and immobile. This leads to significant discomfort and difficulty in performing daily tasks.
  • Bursitis: Bursitis involves inflammation of the bursa sac, a fluid-filled sac that cushions the shoulder joint. When this occurs, people experience pain and swelling in the affected area.
  • Tendinitis: Overuse or repetitive movements can cause inflammation of the tendons in the shoulder, resulting in tendinitis and pain.
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can affect the shoulder joint, causing chronic pain and reduced mobility.
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome: This occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff become compressed or pinched, leading to pain and weakness.
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A muscular young athlete with an injured shoulder complains of pain. A man with nearsightedness wears glasses. Isolated on sky blue background

The Role of Acupuncture

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice, involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to promote natural healing, balance, and stimulate overall well-being. When addressing shoulder pain and rotator cuff injury, I will focus on specific points associated with the shoulder and upper back. When I use hands-on methods, including acupuncture, to stimulate these points, you will experience reduced tension, inflammation, and improved blood circulation, particularly in the targeted area. However, the benefits of acupuncture go beyond just physical relief from shoulder pain. This ancient practice also triggers the release of the body’s natural painkillers, known as endorphins. These “feel good” chemicals are naturally released by the brain and promote relaxation and pain relief throughout your entire body.

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Fitness, shoulder pain and woman with an injury at gym after strength training or exercise. Sports,.

How Can Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center Help?

Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center gives you world class diagnosis coupled with acupuncture plus cutting-edge hands on treatment to quickly ease your pain. Once your pain levels are down I will guide you through a graduated movement strategy so you don’t have to keep coming back for the same issues. At Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center, I will piece the parts of your story together using our unique assessment that looks at your body as one. Here is how I do it.

  • Discussion: I will investigate the cause of your problem and explain it in simple terms.
  • Assessment: This will reveal the underlying dysfunction(s) and show why you are suffering from your pain.
  • Treatment: I will ease your symptoms quickly using acupuncture and other hands-on techniques that quickly relieve your pain and improve function.
  • Rehab: I will give you simple movements that you easily can fit into your busy day to improve recovery and give lasting relief. Your graduated movement strategy and pain treatments continue as needed to help you build your confidence in your body again so you can quickly get back to thoughtless, fearless, movement. Through this phase of treatment, I can add to the rehabilitation by focusing on specific things like working on speed, agility, flexibility, or strength.
  • Freedom: I plan to make you so happy that you’ll actively tell your friends and family about us. You see, I have built our clinic on word of mouth referrals and I expect my clients to be so happy with the results that they tell their friends and family about me, so they too can get the help they need.