Moxa on the needle for shoulder bursitis at our Gold Coast acupuncture clinic

Bursitis is a common complication of shoulder pain.  At our Gold Coast acupuncture clinic we frequently see shoulder bursitis cases.  Bursae are small fluid filled sacs that lay between tendons and bones.  Their role is to protect tendons from contact and friction on bony surfaces.  Bursae frequently become irritated when there is a problem affecting a shoulder tendon.  There are many bursae throughout the shoulder joint, however in most cases of shoulder bursitis it is the sub-acromial bursa that is the culprit.

Clinically, shoulder bursitis seems to affect those around 50 years more than any other age group.  In fact, some cultures call it 50 year old shoulder.  For individuals in this age group degeneration has started to progress in tendons, ligaments, joints and bones.  Degeneration involves a decrease in the specialized function of tissue and changes to its structure.  When degeneration combines with decreased physical conditioning, physical fatigue and trauma, it can over time create a disease state of the muscle, musculotendinous junction and tendon.  In recent years I have adopted the term Cumulative Trauma to describe this pathology.  Cumulative traumas involve abnormalities and tissue damage in various places along the muscle-tendon unit that occur from repeated small traumas.  This frequently affects the supraspinatus muscle and tendon, of which sub-acromial bursitis is a common complication.

Cumulative trauma of the Supraspinatus and sub-acromial bursitis can cause horrendous shoulder pain.  In most cases pain is constant and is aggravated by sustained use.  Body weight placed on the shoulder during sleep is also a common cause of aggravation, contributing to poor sleep.  Range of motion is usually reduced.  In some cases, although there is pain, range of motion is the most significant problem.  In Traditional East Asian Medicine, pain is caused by a breakdown in the circulation of blood and fluids that nourish the body tissues.  This does not reflect our current knowledge about pain mechanisms.  However, if we view this statement as being symbolic of the tissue repair process, of which pain is a consequence, it makes much more sense.  Stagnation to the free circulation of blood and body fluids is symbolic of describing tissue that feel swollen, hard and painful to palpate.  Tissues undergoing a repair process will be engorged with cells and proteins as diseased tissue is transformed into a fibrous patch. 

The worst cases of this shoulder condition may require treatment for up to a few months.  This is mainly due to the extensive and severe nature of the problem.  It is also common for secondary conditions to develop in other parts of the shoulder, upper back and neck from the inability to lift the arm.  Our objectives are to control inflammation, promote effective tissue repair, improve movement and restore strength and confidence.  To achieve this we utilise all our treatment options; acupuncture, moxibustion, massage, Chinese herbal medicine, exercises and, if required, steroid injections (organized by your GP).  Some lifestyle modification may also be required to avoid continued damage to the shoulder muscles and their tendons. 

This article’s purpose is to provide general information for prospective patients searching for acupuncture Gold Coast. If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment Contact us today.