Shoulder Pain and Frozen Shoulder – Condition Resources

Important to know: Chronic health conditions should be addressed under direct medical supervision of your GP or consultant, and acupuncture would be an adjunct or complement to usual care – we advise that you let you doctor know when you use this approach.

Chronic Pain in General

“Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal, headache, and osteoarthritis pain. Treatment effects of acupuncture persist over time and cannot be explained solely in terms of placebo effects. Referral for a course of acupuncture treatment is a reasonable option for a patient with chronic pain”. (Vickers et al, 2018: large chronic pain review of high quality RCTs updating a previous meta-analysis; 39 trials, n=20827; conditions addressed chronic headache, back/neck pain and osteoarthritis)

Another recent overview (Yin et al, 2017) confirms that there is increasing evidence for acupuncture  as an effective, safe, and cost-effective intervention in chronic low back, neck, shoulder, and knee pain, as well as headaches.

The NHS body in charge of which treatments should be used in particular conditions recommends acupuncture for chronic pain:  The NICE Scenario Management guidelines (2021) for chronic pain state: “consider a course of acupuncture or dry needling, within a traditional Chinese or Western acupuncture system”

Overall, a large systematic review has found acupuncture a cost effective intervention for several painful conditions (Ambrósio et al, 2012).

Shoulder Pain and Frozen Shoulder

The British Acupuncture Council has a Research digest where they examined some recent studies on shoulder pain, as well as an evidence based factsheet (links are below)

Shoulder pain was included in large chronic pain review of RCTs updating a previous meta-analysis (Vickers et al, 2018; 39 trials, n=20827), acupuncture showed a significant clinical superiority over usual care and a smaller advantage over sham.

Another systematic review and meta analysis of acupuncture in shoulder pain post stroke (Lee & Lim, 2016), saw that over 12 RCTs  found it more effective that rehabilitation alone  finding it a useful for this, with the authors calling for  further trials of high quality to corroborate this.

Another recent overview (Yin et al, 2017) confirms that there is increasing evidence for acupuncture  as an effective, safe, and cost-effective intervention in chronic shoulder pain.

Clinical trials have suggested that acupuncture may benefit frozen shoulder symptoms (Cheing et al, 2008 – n=70; compared to electrotherapy), with some suggestions it may be good to use in combination with other manual therapies (Ma et al, 2006 – compared to physiotherapy, n=75), and where benefits were seen with acupuncture, but even more so in combination with acupuncture and exercise (Sun et al, 2001; n=35); however in additional high-quality and larger, long term follow-up studies need to be done in the future to confirm these findings.

About the research: It is worth noting that in research, randomised controlled studies (RCT) are the most reliable in terms of quality of evidence, with a systematic review or meta analysis of numerous studies being the best way of seeing the overall picture of the state of the evidence. Below we have a selection of the available research, which does include some larger RCTs, and reviews of the literature alongside smaller studies. The n= figure tells you how many people were participants in the study.

Resources:

British Acupuncture Council evidence based factsheet about Frozen Shoulder including specific research, trials and mechanisms of action for acupuncture in this condition.

British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) evidence based factsheet about Chronic Pain specific research, trials and mechanisms of action for acupuncture in this condition.

BAcC Osteoarthritis Factsheet

BAcC Research Digest

References:

General Chronic Pain References:

Ambrósio, E.M.M., Bloor, K. and MacPherson, H., 2012. Costs and consequences of acupuncture as a treatment for chronic pain: a systematic review of economic evaluations conducted alongside randomised controlled trials. Complementary therapies in medicine, 20(5), pp.364-374.

Vickers, A.J., Vertosick, E.A., Lewith, G., MacPherson, H., Foster, N.E., Sherman, K.J., Irnich, D., Witt, C.M., Linde, K. and Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration, 2018. Acupuncture for chronic pain: update of an individual patient data meta-analysis. The Journal of Pain, 19(5), pp.455-474.

Birch, S., Lee, M.S., Alraek, T. and Kim, T.H., 2018. Overview of treatment guidelines and clinical practical guidelines that recommend the use of acupuncture: a bibliometric analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine24(8), pp.752-769.

NICE 2021 Chronic pain: Scenario: Management Last revised in April 2021

Yin, C., Buchheit, T.E. and Park, J.J., 2017. Acupuncture for chronic pain: an update and critical overview. Current opinion in anaesthesiology30(5), pp.583-592.

Shoulder Pain References:

Cheing, G.L., So, E.M. and Chao, C.Y., 2008. Effectiveness of electroacupuncture and interferential electrotherapy in the management of frozen shoulder. Journal of rehabilitation medicine40(3), pp.166-170.

Lee, S.H. and Lim, S.M., 2016. Acupuncture for poststroke shoulder pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2016.

Ma, T., Kao, M.J., Lin, I.H., Chiu, Y.L., Chien, C., Ho, T.J., Chu, B.C. and Chang, Y.H., 2006. A study on the clinical effects of physical therapy and acupuncture to treat spontaneous frozen shoulder. The American journal of Chinese medicine34(05), pp.759-775.

Sun KO; K C Chan, S L Lo, D Y Fong. Acupuncture for frozen shoulder. Hong Kong Med J 2001; 7: 381-91.

Yin, C., Buchheit, T.E. and Park, J.J., 2017. Acupuncture for chronic pain: an update and critical overview. Current opinion in anaesthesiology30(5), pp.583-592.

Vickers, A.J., Vertosick, E.A., Lewith, G., MacPherson, H., Foster, N.E., Sherman, K.J., Irnich, D., Witt, C.M., Linde, K. and Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration, 2018. Acupuncture for chronic pain: update of an individual patient data meta-analysis. The Journal of Pain19(5), pp.455-474.

Helen
0 comment