Chinese massage and prevention of frozen shoulder

Chinese massage and prevention of frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a very popular disease in the clinic and is mostly found in those over the age of 50-year-old and is very common. It can however be found in all ages but is not as common. This is why Chinese Medicine textbook also refers to it as ‘Fifties shoulder’. Once you acquire frozen shoulder it not only affects work but also daily activities such as combing your hair, dressing or shaving.


Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the following reasons which are the main causes of frozen shoulder. Firstly, the shoulder is being attacked by the cold or wind of external pathogens. Such things like air-conditioning, fan or open window or no blanket whilst you sleep. Secondly, it can be causes by blood stagnation in the circulation such as sport injuries, overuse of shoulder or general injury. Thirdly, there is liver and gallbladder energy and Qi stagnation such as long-term stress, emotions or tension. All of the examples mentioned above, can cause the neck and shoulder to lack in circulation which will finally cause blood stagnation and therefore affect the function and activity of the shoulder. Many cases begin with small stiffness and mild pain which progress to a more serious stage due to not having proper treatment. If you know the causes and symptoms of frozen shoulder, you can prevent this happening to you and get it treated so you have a quick recovery.


The main symptom is shoulder pain. The pain can be located on the front, top or back of the shoulder, this pain can be worse during activities when using the arm. Because of this it will affect the moment of the arm in all directions. In some cases, frozen shoulder can cause the whole arm to be numb and painful or worse after doing an activity which involves the arm, during sleep, early morning, or in cold conditions. Every case has slightly different symptoms due to the varying causes and what channels of the shoulder have been blocked. By TCM diagnosis, you will be able to find out the causes of frozen shoulder which will be very successful in treatment and recovery.


Usually the principle of treatment will be to unblock blood clots, improve circulation or expel the wind and cold. We can choose treatment through Traditional Chinese Massage (or acupuncture, cupping, scrubbing or Chinese medicine). In general Chinese Massage has a very successful result by using certain manipulations and stimulating certain channels. This treatment can be done once or twice a week for 30 – 45 minutes.


To prevent frozen shoulder you should avoid the cold and wind directly blowing onto your shoulder. Secondly, when you have a small injury around the neck and shoulder, you should treat it immediately and avoid blood stagnation.


Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.