Acupuncture for Neck & Shoulder, Arm & Wrist Pain.
Many people nowadays experience neck and shoulder problems as a result of long-term stress, poor posture and repetitive muscle strain. Stiffness and pain is often caused by injury and inflammation as well as degeneration or compression of structures within the neck and shoulder. Shoulder and upper-back pain can also be referred from pinched nerves in the neck, and internal organs such as the liver, gallbladder, diaphragm or heart.
A variety of symptoms can affect the arm, elbow and hand such as pain, swelling, cramps, numbness, tingling, weakness and changes in temperature or colour. Common causes include injuries, repetitive wear and tear, compressed nerves and vessels, as well as problems originating in the neck or shoulder.
What Does The Research Say?
The following insights are obtained from systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Chinese medicine and acupuncture for neck & shoulder, arm & wrist pain.
2020 Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Acupuncture could be safe and effective for pain reduction, restoring shoulder function, and restoring flexion range of motion for frozen shoulder patients in the short term and midterm.
In this systematic review and a meta-analysis, acupuncture had shown to be a safe treatment with a significant effect in regard to reducing pain, improving shoulder function, and flexion ROM in the short term and midterm. However, due to the small number of included studies and methodological limitations in these studies, more large-scale high-quality RCTs are warranted in order to give a robust conclusion. Future studies should compare acupuncture to other treatments and sham acupuncture. Additionally, longer follow-up time is needed for investigating the effect of acupuncture in the mid- and long term, and the duration of future FS studies follow-up should be increased to one year.
The Effectiveness of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Frozen Shoulder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Ben-Arie E, Kao PY, Lee YC, Ho WC, Chou LW, Liu HP
2020 Pain Research and Management
Acupuncture appears to be superior to drug or blocking therapy or sham acupuncture therapy for lateral epicondylitis.
In conclusion, despite the limitations of the methodology, the results of this meta-analysis indicated that acupuncture therapy might be more effective than drugs and blocking therapy in improving the clinical efficacy rate and decreasing the VAS score. Well-designed RCTs with larger sample sizes and long-term follow-up on these topics are still needed to supply reliable evidence on the efficacy of acupuncture for treating lateral epicondylitis.
Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Lateral Epicondylitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials Zhou Y, Guo Y, Zhou R, Wu P, Liang F, Yang Z
2019 Clinical Rehabilitation
For both symptom relief and function improvement, manual acupuncture is superior to ibuprofen for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Result of this systematic review has shown that acupuncture and related therapies appear to be effective in improving symptoms, function and pain in carpal tunnel syndrome.
However, validity of such conclusion is limited as majority of the included trials are at high risk of bias from lack of blinding.
Associated adverse events were minimal.
Acupuncture and related interventions for carpal tunnel syndrome: systematic review Wu IXY, Lam VCK, Ho RST, Cheung WKW, Sit RWS, Chou LW, Zhang Y, Leung TH, Chung VCH
Acupuncture combined with physiotherapy or exercise was found to be more effective for frozen shoulder than physiotherapy or exercise alone in the short and long term.
Shoulder pain is a leading musculoskeletal pain complaint, and is responsible for high morbidity with marked impact on quality of life. Acupuncture is a modality commonly employed in the treatment of shoulder conditions; however, past systematic reviews investigating its effectiveness have been inconclusive, noting a paucity of good quality research. A new body of research has since been published, and is included within this review. The objective of this systematic review was therefore to investigate the current evidence base for the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of shoulder pain.
Effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of shoulder pain: a systematic review of published randomised clinical trials A. Rubio M. Mansfield J. Lewis
2017 Pain Medicine
Our study provides evidence that acupuncture has a specific impact on frozen shoulder beyond the placebo effects that may not only be beneficial in reducing short-term pain perception, but may also have a positive long-term influence on the time course of recovery.
Primary adhesive capsulitis ("frozen shoulder") is a common disorder associated with pain and significant morbidity in humans worldwide. This first double-blinded (patient- and observer-blinded) study in patients with AC showed the efficiency of our special distal needling protocol by systematic combination of acupoints for immediate pain reduction. The study also confirmed the suitability of press tack needles and press tack placebos as an effective option for double-blind studies in acupuncture. The follow-up clinical observation with classical needle acupuncture confirmed that results obtained with the press tack placebos/press tack needles design can be transferred to classical needle acupuncture. Furthermore, conservative therapy that included acupuncture represented a superior effectiveness on the time course of recovery in AC patients compared with patients treated with conservative therapy alone in a standard clinical setting.
Immediate Pain Relief in Adhesive Capsulitis by Acupunctureâ€”A Randomized Controlled Double-Blinded Study SchrÃ¶der S, Meyer-Hamme G, Friedemann T, Kirch S, Hauck M, Plaetke R, Friedrichs S, Gulati A, Briem D
2016 Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Acupuncture relieves neck pain better than sham acupuncture and those who received acupuncture report less pain and disability at shortâ€term followâ€up than those on a waitâ€list.
For mechanical neck pain, we found that acupuncture is beneficial immediately following treatment and at shortâ€term followâ€up compared with sham treatments for pain intensity; at shortâ€term followâ€up compared with sham treatments for disability (NPQ); at shortâ€term followâ€up compared with inactive treatments for pain intensity; and at shortâ€term followâ€up compared with waitâ€list control for pain intensity and neck disability improvement. Effects do not seem sustainable over the long term. Acupuncture treatments appear to be relatively safe.
Acupuncture for neck disorders Trinh K, Graham N, Irnich D, Cameron ID, Forget M.
2015 Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies
Short-term acupuncture treatment is more effective than ibuprofen for mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome.
In our study, none of the patients treated with acupuncture developed complications, whereas five patients treated with ibuprofen had gastrointestinal side effects (we then used omeprazole); however, none of them withdrew from the study due to the adverse effects. Therefore, acupuncture is superior in safety as well.
The limitations of this study include the low number of treatment sessions in the group treated with acupuncture. If the number of treatment sessions were added, better therapeutic results may have been obtained.
Overall, it seems that acupuncture is a relatively uncomplicated and safe treatment option for patients with mild to moderate CTS and can improve symptoms and electrodiagnostic parameters.
Efficacies of Acupuncture and Anti-inflammatory Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Hadianfard M, Bazrafshan E, Momeninejad H, Jahani N.
2014 BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies
Moderate quality studies suggest that acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture for lateral elbow pain.
All studies had at least one domain rated as high risk or uncertain risk of bias in the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Results from three RCTs of moderate quality showed that acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture. Results from 10 RCTs of mostly low quality showed that acupuncture or moxibustion was superior or equal to conventional treatment, such as local anesthetic injection, local steroid injection, non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs, or ultrasound. There were six low quality RCTs that compared acupuncture and moxibustion combined with manual acupuncture alone, and all showed that acupuncture and moxibustion combined was superior to manual acupuncture alone.
Acupuncture and moxibustion for lateral elbow pain: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials Gadau M, Yeung WF, Liu H, Zaslawski C, Tan YS, Wang FC, et al
2014 Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies
Acupuncture can be considered as an alternative option for treatment of De Quervain's tenosynovitis.
Although injection has been considered the mainstay of management for tendinopathy, the exact mechanism of its therapeutic effect is unknown. Furthermore, a number of studies have provided strong evidence that corticosteroid injection is beneficial in the short term but may be worse than other conservative interventions in the intermediate and long terms.
According to this study, acupuncture improved not only pain intensity, but also disability status of the patients with De Quervain's tenosynovitis. Although we noted a higher improvement rate in patient's symptoms in the injection group, the difference between the two groups was small when the overall effects were evaluated over time and, therefore, the efficacy of acupuncture is likewise remarkable.
Efficacy of Acupuncture versus Local Methylprednisolone Acetate Injection in De Quervain's Tenosynovitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial Hadianfard M, Ashraf A, Fakheri M, Nasiri A
2010 The Journal of Pain
A meta-analysis of acupuncture versus steroid block therapy favored acupuncture in terms of responder rate.
Our systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrate that the evidence for acupuncture as a symptomatic therapy of carpal tunnel syndrome is encouraging but not convincing. The total number of included RCTs and their methodological quality were low. Further rigorous studies are required to establish whether acupuncture has therapeutic value for this indication.
Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials Lee, H., Shim, H., Shin, B., Jung, A., Lee, M., & Ernst, E.
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Although well-conducted clinical research can help members of the public to make better-informed decisions about their healthcare, we do not make any claims that any particular treatment may be efficacious for any individual person.
When you consult with our Chinese medicine practitioners, you'll receive personalised advice and treatment based on your symptoms and Chinese medicine diagnosis.
Browse our collection of scientific clinical research on acupuncture for neck & shoulder, arm & wrist pain.
It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.
2020, Sep 25
The Effectiveness of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Frozen Shoulder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
In this systematic review and a meta-analysis, acupuncture had shown to be a safe treatment with a significant effect in regard to reducing pain, improving shoulder function, and flexion ROM in the short term and midterm.
Ben-Arie E, Kao PY, Lee YC, Ho WC, Chou LW, Liu HP Full Article
2020, Mar 21
Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Lateral Epicondylitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
Pain Research and Management
The systematic review and meta analysis of randomized controlled trials showed that acupuncture therapy is more effective than drugs and blocking therapy in improving the clinical efficacy rate.
Zhou Y, Guo Y, Zhou R, Wu P, Liang F, Yang Z Full Article
2019, Sep 26
Acupuncture and related interventions for carpal tunnel syndrome: systematic review
The study showcase that acupuncture patients found symptom relief and function improvement. Manual acupuncture was also found to be better than ibuprofen for long term relief.
Wu IXY, Lam VCK, Ho RST, Cheung WKW, Sit RWS, Chou LW, Zhang Y, Leung TH, Chung VCH Full Article
2018, Nov 8
A Systematic Review of Acupuncture for Tennis Elbow
Journal of Acupuncture Research Korean Acupuncture & Moxibustion Medicine Society
The systematic review showcased that acupuncture is effective for tennis elbow. The study was evaluated against NSAIDs with the intervention group showing a statistically significant effect. Patients reported to have an overall pain reduction after treatment.
Ji Hye Oh, Yun Kyu Lee, Jae Soo Kim, Hyun Jong Lee, Sung Chul Lim Full Article
Is cupping therapy effective in patients with neck pain? A systematic review and meta-analysis
The study highlighted that cupping was found to reduce neck pain in patients compared with control groups.
Kim S, Lee S, Kim M, et al Full Article
2017, Dec 1
Effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of shoulder pain: a systematic review of published randomised clinical trials
This study showed that acupuncture is more effective for shoulder pain than physiotherapy. It also indicated that acupuncture combined with physiotherapy or exercise was found to be more effective for frozen shoulder than physiotherapy or exercise alone in the short and long term.
A. Rubio M. Mansfield J. Lewis Full Article
2017, Nov 10
Effectiveness of Acupuncture and Electroacupuncture for Chronic Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
The American Journal of Chinese Medicine
The systematic review highlighted that significant relief of pain was observed when the sole electroacupuncture group was compared to the control group or electroacupuncture was added onto the active control group,
See Yoon Seo, Ki-Beom Lee, Joon-Shik Shin, Jinho Lee, Me-Riong Kim, In-Hyuk Ha, Youme Ko and Yoon Jae Lee Full Article
2017, Mar 20
Immediate Pain Relief in Adhesive Capsulitis by Acupunctureâ€”A Randomized Controlled Double-Blinded Study
Pain Medicine American Academy of Pain Medicine
The efficiency of distal needling acupuncture on immediate pain reduction was demonstrated in patients with AC and confirmed the applicability of press tack needles and press tack placebos for double-blind studies in acupuncture.
SchrÃ¶der S, Meyer-Hamme G, Friedemann T, Kirch S, Hauck M, Plaetke R, Friedrichs S, Gulati A, Briem D Full Article
2016, Oct 17
Acupuncture for neck disorders
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Cochrane
This study suggests that acupuncture relieves neck pain. Acupuncture is beneficial at immediate-term follow-up to reduce pain-intensity.
Trinh K, Graham N, Irnich D, Cameron ID, Forget M. Full Article
2015, Dec 30
Acupuncture for Lateral Epicondylitis: A Systematic Review
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
In this systematic review, we included a total of four randomized controlled trials with 309 participants suffering from lateral epicondylitis. The studies showed that acupuncture significantly improves elbow functional disabilities and myodynamic. Patients also reported to have increased strength and functional status of arms.
Hongzhi Tang, Huaying Fan, Jiao Chen, Mingxiao Yang, Xuebing Yi, Guogang Dai, Junrong Chen, Liugang Tang, Haibo Rong, Junhua Wu, Fanrong Liang, Full Article
Efficacies of Acupuncture and Anti-inflammatory Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies Medical Association of Pharmacopuncture Institute
The findings indicated that acupuncture significantly improved wrist pain. Patients reported to have a decreased in numbness, better quality sleep and increased in wrist mobility. There is also an overall decreased with intake of painkillers and non-steroidoidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Hadianfard M, Bazrafshan E, Momeninejad H, Jahani N. Full Article
Efficacy of Acupuncture versus Local Methylprednisolone Acetate Injection in De Quervain's Tenosynovitis: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies Medical Association of Pharmacopuncture Institute
The present trial shows that acupuncture can be considered as an effective, well tolerated, and safe alternative option in the treatment of patients suffering from De Quervain's tenosynovitis.
Hadianfard M, Ashraf A, Fakheri M, Nasiri A Full Article
2014, Apr 12
Acupuncture and moxibustion for lateral elbow pain: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials
BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies
This systematic review showcase that acupuncture shows significantly results with lateral elbow pain. The treatment reduced frequency of local anesthetic injection, local steroid injection and non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs. Overall, patients reported to have improved quality of life after receiving treatments.
Gadau M, Yeung WF, Liu H, Zaslawski C, Tan YS, Wang FC, et al Full Article
2010, Nov 22
Acupuncture for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials
The Journal of Pain American Pain Society
The systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrate that acupuncture as a symptomatic therapy for carpel tunnel. In the long run, the patients responded better with acupuncture than steroid block therapy.
Lee, H., Shim, H., Shin, B., Jung, A., Lee, M., & Ernst, E. Full Article