Abdominal acupuncture used for treating shoulder pain

Abdominal Acupuncture – Shoulder Pain

Sheila is a 74 year old mother of two. She is quite overweight, but has managed to lose 40 lbs (pounds) in approximately eighteen months through life style changes and an exercise regime. She is very jovial, positive and doesn’t like to trouble anyone. She is, as we say in Ireland,  the “salt of the earth”. She has many stresses due to an ongoing family problem that has given her years of hardship. She has been attending my clinic roughly every four weeks for five months now. I have been treating Sheila for the effects of stress and general relaxation. Sheila doesn't usually like to tell me about her problems as she is constantly thinking of others and feels that her problems are not worth addressing.

The consultation began by asking Sheila what I could do for her that day. She said really she had no problems, when compared to what some people have to endure. As she struggled to remove her coat I asked if there was discomfort in her shoulder. She then went on to tell me that her shoulder has been painful, on and off for the last 10 years. I asked her to show me where the pain was and it appeared to be at the shoulder joint and along the large intestines meridian, around LI 15 (Jianyu).

A Quick treatment 

The treatment started by getting Sheila to reference her pain. She raised and rotated her arm against resistance, in a way which would aggravate her pain and thus this pain level was recognised as a real time reference score of 10 out of 10. Palpation of Sheila's abdomen revealed a couple of small ahshi points around the shoulder point St 24 (Huaroumen) and Kid 17 (Shangqu) on the affected left-hand side. 


Since Sheila is in her 70's it was decided to use a comprehensive, yet relatively minimal treatment. The prescription used was "Bringing Qi Home" Ren 12 (Zhongwan), Ren 10 (Xiawan), Ren 6 (Qihai) & Ren 4 (Guanyuan). With needles at the ahshi points kidney 17 (Shangqu) & St 24 (the shoulder point) on the affected left side. All the needles were initially left very superficially and then inserted to the desired depths. All the Ren points went to a depth of approximately 0.5 cun. The one needle used at kidney 17 (Shangqu), met with quite a bit of resistance at a superficial level. This needle passed through the resistance which required a little bit of manipulation to break up the ahshi point. Once this was achieved the needle was left at a depth of 0.2 cun. Next the focus was directed towards the area of stomach 24 on the affected left-hand side. Here once again the needles met a little bit of resistance and once this was broken up. The needle was returned to a depth where the resistance was first encountered. Two needles were necessary here to cover the large shoulder joint.

Sheila was encouraged to repeat the same movement that should aggravate her shoulder pain in order to ascertain what the change in her pain reference level was. After repeating this movement Sheila declared that there was no longer any pain and that she had much more movement in her shoulder.

Treatment rationale 

Sheila is in her 70's and I wanted to give her a comprehensive treatment "Bringing Qi Home" Ren 12 (Zhongwan), Ren 10 (Xiawan), Ren 6 (Qihai) & Ren 4 (Guanyuan). It  will provide her with an invigorating treatment. Just using ahshi points achieved the result that I was looking for and so there was no need to use any other points. 

Fig 1: An illustration of Sheila's treatment


This was a very comprehensive yet simple treatments which achieved the results and ameliorated Sheila’s pain completely and rapidly. At the end of the treatment Sheila felt great and still couldn't comprehend how a couple of needles in her abdomen fixed this aggravating pain. Sheila later reported that she got relief from the pain for about 10 days and that even after 3 weeks the pain had not returned with the same degree of intensity and her range of movement is better. 

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