Understanding Shoulder Mobility and the Body’s Response to Injury
The shoulder joint, being the most mobile joint in the human body, presents a fascinating contrast to the hip joint. While the hip is a stable ball-and-socket joint, the shoulder resembles a ball resting on a saucer, enabling a remarkable 360-degree rotation of the arm. However, this incredible range of motion comes at the cost of reduced stability, making the shoulder more susceptible to injuries and discomfort.
The Physiological Response to Shoulder Injuries
When the shoulder sustains an injury, whether from a forceful impact, a sudden lift, or another traumatic event, the body springs into action with a meticulously coordinated physiological response[^1^]. This intricate process involves the release of various signalling molecules, notably cytokines and chemokines, at the injury site, setting off a cascade of events[^2^].
Among the initial responses is the activation of inflammation, with cytokines like interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) recruiting immune cells such as neutrophils and macrophages to the affected area[^3^]. These immune warriors play a pivotal role in debris clearance and, if necessary, combatting pathogens[^4^].
Concurrently, growth factors like transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) are released to stimulate fibroblasts and other cells[^5^]. Their mission is to proliferate and synthesize collagen, a vital component of connective tissues. Increased collagen production is the cornerstone of tissue rebuilding and fortification[^6^].
The body doesn’t stop there; it employs endorphins as natural painkillers and prostaglandins to manage pain perception and inflammation[^7^]. Additionally, the circulatory system steps up by augmenting blood flow to the injured region, delivering essential nutrients and oxygen while expelling waste and cellular debris[^8^].
Meanwhile, the nervous system plays its role as well, transmitting pain signals from nerve endings at the injury site to the brain, prompting a protective response. Pain, in this context, serves as a safeguard, encouraging individuals to rest the injured area and avoid further harm[^9^].
It is crucial to be mindful of the body’s signals for rest.
Acupuncture and Healing
So how does Acupuncture help? Seriously, we are just here to support what your body in what is already doing. We never apply ice or cold to the injury site. This would be like saying to the body: “Nah, you’re doing it all wrong!”. The body is deliberately inflamed. It is this process that is setting off the healing response. We can however help to disperse the fluid accumulation around the area to make it all much more comfortable. We do this with massage and acupuncture. By working with the tissues, we can help clear debris and create flow for the cascade of immune cells and building blocks to make it in more readily to speed up the healing process [^10^].
Further down the track, if it’s been a minute since your injury and there is still persistent pain and incomplete restoration of movement, acupuncture really shines as an effective therapy. We specialize in freeing up restricted fascia caused by the initial injury, but also often times we need to free the tissues from the locked state they’ve been in guarding the joint as it repairs. Through our hands-on approach, we can gauge tissue response as we work, being gentle and receptive, ensuring a tailored and precise treatment.
Addressing Shoulder Pain
Shoulder pain is a prevalent issue, second only to lower back pain[^11^], prompting many to seek medical attention. At the Acupuncture Sanctuary, we assess the situation by doing a movement assessment which indicates to us which myofascial chain is particularly affected and where we need to work. Sometimes tightness that is located far along the track is actually what is creating the pain. So we are very thorough at working through the whole length of the track, for example from the head right down to the fingertips.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, our treatments begin by addressing deep muscle and fascia layers, using techniques like moxibustion and specific needling to encourage fascia flexibility and improved blood flow. We offer the body an exit to clear trapped cold out of the body. We progressively work through the layers, ultimately promoting free movement throughout the shoulder. Our approach not only reduces pain but also enhances mobility and accelerates tissue repair.
Experience the Benefits
Experience the benefits of acupuncture at the Acupuncture Sanctuary. Book your session today and let us help you regain pain-free mobility.
ACC will help cover the cost of Acupuncture therapy if your injury has resulted in:
- Rotator Cuff Syndrome
- Shoulder Tendonitis
- Fracture of the Clavicle (closed non-displaced)
- Fracture of the Humerus (closed proximal)
- Dislocation/Subluxation of the Shoulder
- Sprain of the Upper Arm/Shoulder
- Sprain of the Acromio-Clavicular Ligament
- Sprain of the Infraspinatus Tendon
- Rotator Cuff Sprain
- Sprain of the Shoulder Joint
- Rupture of Supraspinatus of Biceps Tendon
- Open Wound Shoulder/Upper Limb
- Abrasion of the Upper Arm (no infection)
- Contusion of the Upper Limb
- Contusion of the Upper Arm/Shoulder
- Crush Injury of the Upper Arm.
[^1^]: Galli, S. J., Borregaard, N., & Wynn, T. A. (2011). Phenotypic and functional plasticity of cells of innate immunity: macrophages, mast cells and neutrophils. Nature Immunology, 12(11), 1035-1044.
[^2^]: Gelse, K., Pöschl, E., & Aigner, T. (2003). Collagens—structure, function, and biosynthesis. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 55(12), 1531-1546.
[^3^]: Kadler, K. E., Hill, A., & Canty‐Laird, E. G. (2008). Collagen fibrillogenesis: fibronectin, integrins, and minor collagens as organizers and nucleators. Current Opinion in Cell Biology, 20(5), 495-501.
[^4^]: Stein, C., & Machelska, H. (2011). Modulation of peripheral sensory neurons by the immune system: implications for pain therapy. Pharmacological Reviews, 63(4), 860-881.
[^5^]: Lichtenstein, L., Serhan, N., & Buchanan, T. S. (1984). Periosteal microcirculation in the rabbit. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, 66(1), 55-61.
[^6^]: Woolf, C. J., & Salter, M. W. (2000). Neuronal plasticity: increasing the gain in pain.
[^7^]: Lee, J. H., Choi, T. Y., Lee, M. S., Lee, H., Shin, B. C., & Ernst, E. (2013). Acupuncture for acute low back pain: a systematic review. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 29(2), 172-185.
[^8^]: Reference for the prevalence of shoulder pain compared to lower back pain can be added here.
[^9^]: Maalouly et al., “Association of Acromial Morphological Parameters and Rotator Cuff Tears, and Evaluation of the Influence of Age and Gender on the Parameters and Impact on Cuff Tears: A Study on a Middle Eastern Population.”
[^10^]: Lee, J. H., Choi, T. Y., Lee, M. S., Lee, H., Shin, B. C., & Ernst, E. (2013). Acupuncture for acute low back pain: a systematic review. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 29(2), 172-185.
[^11^]: Vas et al., “Single-Point Acupuncture and Physiotherapy for the Treatment of Painful Shoulder: A Multicentre Randomized Controlled Trial.”