Shoulder Pain

Health Issues/Symptoms Connections

"Shoulder Pain" Issue / Symptom Connections

Below you will find various relationships to, and potential clinical treatment approaches for shoulder pain.

It is critical to appreciate that in Chinese Medicine, treatment for "shoulder pain" is rarely focused on the symptoms exclusively. Alternatively, a practitioner is looking at the factors that led to the development of "shoulder pain" - i.e. the "cause(s)".

For non-practitioners, we recommend reading treating the "cause" and not the "symptoms" for more on the overall approach and the importance of the TCM diagnostic system in formulating treatment approaches.

Some acupuncture points are considered "empirically" related to a specific condition or diagnostic pattern. While this would rarely, if ever, dictate the entire composition of a treatment, the following points should be considered, possibly even more so within the context of acupressure:

  • View EX Huatuojiaji at C4 (Sides of Spine at C4)

        .5 cun lateral to the lower border of the spinous processes of C4

        C4 innervates the areas of the mouth, jaw and chin.  May be used for a range of dental issues, bell's palsy, tmj as well as shoulder tension and/or neck issues due to holding tension in the upper parts of the body. Used extensively within…
  • View EX Huatuojiaji at C6 (Sides of Spine at C6)

        .5 cun lateral to the lower border of the spinous processes of C6

        C6 innervates the thyroid gland and is used for a range of thyroid issues - hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, etc.  Also used locally for problems down in the arm and hands, shoulder pain, carpal tunnel, etc. Used extensively within the Tam Heal…
  • View EX Huatuojiaji at C7 (Sides of Spine at C7)

        .5 cun lateral to the lower border of the spinous processes of C7

        C7 innervates the parathyroid gland and as it has a role in calcium utilization, this point is use dfor a range of bone problems, arthritis, bone spurs, osteoporosis, etc.  Also used locally for problems down in the arm and hands, shoulder…
  • View HT 1 (Highest Spring)

        In the center of the axilla on the radial side of the axillary artery.

        Regulate Qi flow from the torso to the arm and vice versa - cold, numbness, pain in shoulder a/or arm. Pain in the cardiac region - heart pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, palpitations. Frozen shoulder. Pain a/or distentio…
  • View HT 2 (Cyan Spirit)

        With the elbow flexed, 3 cun above HT 3 on the ulnar side of the biceps brachii in the medial groove.

        Local point - in many classics needling this point is contraindicated.  Moxabustion, however, is applicable. Pain in the shoulder or arm. Pain in the lateral chest and/or hypochondriac regions.
  • View LI 7 (Warm Dwelling)

        5 cun above the crease of the wrist (LI 5).

        Xi Cleft Point useful for pain due to stagnation along the meridian in the shoulders, elbows and wrist. Classically noted with LI 5 for "seeing ghosts," may be useful in manic conditions.  
  • View LI 9 (Upper Ridge)

        3 cun below LI 11 on the LI 5 to LI 11 line.

        The following relationships exist between the ST and the LI and can be used to treat ST, LI and SI organ problems: SI: LI 8 & ST 39 LI: LI 9 & ST 37 ST: LI 10 & ST 36 Local point for shoulder, elbow, and arm pain. Stagnati…
  • View LI 10 (Arm Three Li)

        2 cun below LI 11 on the LI 5 to LI 11 line.

        The following relationships exist between the ST and the LI and can be used to treat ST, LI and SI organ problems: SI: LI 8 & ST 39 LI: LI 9 & ST 37 ST: LI 10 & ST 36 Shoulder, elbow & wrist pain issues, general achines…
  • View LI 14 (Upper Arm)

        On the radial side of the upper arm, 7 cun above LI 11 at the insertion of the deltoid muscle.

        Local point for pain in the shoulder and upper arm. Weakness in the upper arms Benefits the eyes - redness, swelling, pain. Scrofula  
  • View LI 15 (Shoulder Bone)

        Anterior and inferior to the acromion in a depression found with the arm abducted.

        Shoulder Disorders, rotator cuff injuries, adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder, any ROM issues. Seminal emission due to taxation.  
  • View LI 16 (Great Bone)

        In the upper aspect of the shoulder between the acromial extremity of the clavicle and the spine of the scapula.

        Adjunctive point with LI 15 for shoulder issues, particularly chronic issues related to blood stasis. Resolve Blood stagnation in the chest & lungs, vomiting a/or coughing of Blood.  
  • View LU 2 (Cloud Gate)

        6 cun lateral to the anterior midline, below the clavicle in a depression medial to the coracoid process.

        Similar to LU 1 but used more often as a local shoulder point. Cough, asthma, tension in the chest.
  • View PC 2 (Celestial Spring)

        2 cun below the end of the anterior axillary fold between the two heads of the biceps brachii muscle.

        Opens the chest and invigorates the blood - cardiac pain / angina, cough, localized pain in the chest / shoulder area. Calms the spirit - palpitations.
  • View SI 3 (Back Ravine)

        When a loose fist is made, at the ulnar end of the distal palmar crease proximal to the 5th metacarpal phalangeal joint…

        Master Point of the GV, effects entire pathway. Pain in the scapula, arm a/or hand combine with local points. Stiff neck, cervical strain/sprain, pain of the back or neck. Occipital headaches, combine with local points. Night sweats, c…
  • View SI 5 (Yang Valley)

        On the ulnar end of the transverse wrist crease in a depression between the styloid process of the ulna and the triquet…

        Local point for the hand and wrist. Neck and shoulder pain and/or swelling. Toothache, lockjaw. Clears heat from the hearts - calms the spirit, manic behavior.  
  • View SI 6 (Nursing the Aged)

        Dorsal to the head of the ulna in the body cleft on the radial side of the styloid process, found with the palm facing …

        Acute and Severe Pain, in the neck, shoulder a/or arms. Useful point for treating elderly patients, deafness, tinnitus, failing vision, upper body/limb stiffness. Overwork a/or overstrain, fatigue in the extremities.  
  • View SI 9 (True Shoulder)

        1 cun above the posterior end of the axillary fold, posterior and inferior to the shoulder joint, found with the arm ad…

        Local point for shoulder and arm pain and/or movement/control issues.  Motor control issues of the hand. Wind-heat invasion - chills and fever from the common cold. Tinnitus, deafness.  
  • View SI 10 (Upper Arm Shu)

        With the arm abducted, directly above SI 9 in a depression inferior to the scapular spine.

        Local point for shoulder and upper arm pain, swelling and/or weakness. Wind-heat, wind-cold - chills and fever.  
  • View SI 11 (Celestial Gathering)

        On the scapula in a depression at the center of the infrascapular fossa, found at the junction of the upper and middle …

        Breast problems, mastitis, insufficient lactation, breast pain. Emotional issues, anxiety that presents with asthma, expands and relaxes the chest, asthma generally. Local point for channel pain within the shoulder, scapula region, elbow…
  • View SI 12 (Grasping the Wind)

        Directly above SI 11 in the center of the suprascapular fossa, found in a depression when the arm is lifted.

        Local point for shoulder, scapula and/or arm pain, numbness, weakness along the course of the channel.  
  • View SI 13 (Crooked Wall)

        At the medial extremity of the suprascapular fossa midway between SI 10 and the spinous process of T2.

        Local point for shoulder and/or scapular region pain, weakness and/or stiffness.  Useful for chronic shoulder problems.  
  • View SI 14 (Outer Shoulder Shu)

        3 cun lateral to the spinous process of T1 (GV 13).

        Local point for shoulder and scapular region pain. Neck pain and/or rotation issues, and pain of the upper back.  
  • View SI 15 (Central Shoulder Shu)

        2 cun lateral to the spinous process of C7 (GV 14).

        Asthma, cough, coughing up of blood (hemoptysis). Local point for shoulder, neck and/or upper back pain.  
  • View ST 12 (Empty Basin)

        In the midpoint of the supraclavicular fossa, 4 cun lateral to the anterior midline.

        Shoulder pain (esp. that radiates to neck). Neck/throat issues - tightness/pain. Cough, counterflow qi, sore, swollen throat (rebellious lung qi). Internal branch of the ST meridian connects here directly from the Stomach, Spleen & …
  • View ST 38 (Ribbon Opening)

        8 cun below ST 35, one finger width lateral from the anterior border of the tibia.

        Empirical point for shoulder issues - pain, motor control, adhesive capsulitis or "frozen shoulder."  Local point for lower leg issues - pain, atrophy, numbness.
  • View UB 41 (Attached Branch)

        3 cun lateral to the GV line, level with T2, on the spinal border of the scapula. Lateral to UB 12.

        Useful for dispelling cold and wind from the upper back and neck - neck pain, shoulder problems, arm and/or elbow issues. 
  • View UB 42 (Po Door)

        3 cun lateral to GV 12 and UB 13, level with T3, on the spinal border of the scapula.

        Reinforce the Lung Shu (UB 13) for Lung related disorders: cough, asthma, etc. Drain heat from the Lung - cough with heat, tuberculosis. Local point for shoulder and upper back pain and restriction.

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