Periarthritis of the shoulder according to Chinese Medicine

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In Chinese Medicine, periarthritis of the shoulder can be associated with six so-called "patterns of disharmony". Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to the Western concept of "disease", as a matter of fact here periarthritis of the shoulder can be caused by six different patterns.

To understand whether someone's periarthritis of the shoulder might be caused by a given pattern, one needs to look for signs and symptoms associated with the pattern beyond what one might typically experience from periarthritis of the shoulder alone. For instance when periarthritis of the shoulder is caused by the pattern Painful Obstruction with Wind-Cold-Damp, patients also experience symptoms such as swollen and painful joints that are warm to the touch and worsen at night, reduced range of motion in the affected joints, chills without sweating and weight loss. Similarly, patients with Painful Obstruction with Wind-Cold-Damp typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

We've listed below a description of the six patterns associated with periarthritis of the shoulder so that you can start to get an understanding of the various possibilities according to Chinese Medicine.

Once identified, patterns are often treated using herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. Here we detail below eight formulas that can help treat the various patterns associated with periarthritis of the shoulder, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The six "patterns of disharmony" associated with periarthritis of the shoulder

Painful Obstruction with Wind-Cold-Damp

Periarthritis of the shoulder might be due to Painful Obstruction with Wind-Cold-Damp if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as swollen and painful joints that are warm to the touch and worsen at night, reduced range of motion in the affected joints, chills without sweating and weight loss. Similarly, patients with Painful Obstruction with Wind-Cold-Damp typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Painful Obstruction with Wind-Cold-Damp here

Exterior Cold invading the Interior

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Recommended herbal formula: Da Huang Fu Zi Tang

Symptoms: Chills Constipation Abdominal pain Low-grade fever Hypochondriac pain Cold hands and feet

Periarthritis of the shoulder might be due to Exterior Cold invading the Interior if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, hypochondriac pain and chills. Similarly, patients with Exterior Cold invading the Interior typically exhibit tight (Jin) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Exterior Cold invading the Interior here

Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Deep (Chen), Minute (Wei), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Recommended herbal formula: Fu Zi Tang

Symptoms: No thirst Cold extremities Generalized body pain Aching bones and joints Aversion to cold (especially at the back)

Periarthritis of the shoulder might be due to Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as generalized body pain, aching bones and joints, cold extremities and no thirst. Similarly, patients with Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp typically exhibit choppy (Se), deep (Chen), minute (Wei) or slow (Chi) pulses as well as a tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp here

Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Slowed-down (Huan)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Recommended herbal formula: Juan Bi Tang

Symptoms: Difficulty in moving Numbness in the extremities General sensation of heaviness Stiffness in the neck shoulder and upper back

Periarthritis of the shoulder might be due to Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as general sensation of heaviness, numbness in the extremities, difficulty in moving and stiffness in the neck shoulder and upper back. Similarly, patients with Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency typically exhibit slowed-down (Huan) pulses as well as a tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency here

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Recommended herbal formula: Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang

Symptoms: Palpitations Aversion to cold Shortness of breath Attraction to warmth Weakness and stiffness Heavy and painful sensations in the lower back and lower extremities

Periarthritis of the shoulder might be due to Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as heavy and painful sensations in the lower back and lower extremities, weakness and stiffness, aversion to cold and attraction to warmth. Similarly, patients with Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency typically exhibit slow (Chi), weak (Ruo) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency here

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Xiao Qing Long Tang

Symptoms: Wheezing No thirst Absence of sweating Generalized body pain Alternating fever and chills General sensation of heaviness Stifling sensation in the chest Coughing of copious thin and white sputum

Periarthritis of the shoulder might be due to Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as alternating fever and chills, absence of sweating, wheezing and stifling sensation in the chest. Similarly, patients with Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm typically exhibit tight (Jin) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm here

The eight herbal formulas that might help with periarthritis of the shoulder

Gui Zhi Shao Yao Zhi Mu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and inflammations. Unblocks the flow of Yang Qi and promotes movement (in areas with painful obstruction). Clears Wind and Damp. Relieves pain.

Why might Gui Zhi Shao Yao Zhi Mu Tang help with periarthritis of the shoulder?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Painful Obstruction with Wind-Cold-Damp, a pattern sometimes associated with periarthritis of the shoulder. If it looks like you might suffer from Painful Obstruction with Wind-Cold-Damp, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Gui Zhi Shao Yao Zhi Mu Tang here

Da Huang Fu Zi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Interior. Disperses Cold. Unblocks the bowels. Alleviates pain.

Why might Da Huang Fu Zi Tang help with periarthritis of the shoulder?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Exterior Cold invading the Interior, a pattern sometimes associated with periarthritis of the shoulder. If it looks like you might suffer from Exterior Cold invading the Interior, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Da Huang Fu Zi Tang here

Fu Zi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Meridians. Assists the Yang. Dispels Cold. Transforms Dampness.

Why might Fu Zi Tang help with periarthritis of the shoulder?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp, a pattern sometimes associated with periarthritis of the shoulder. If it looks like you might suffer from Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Fu Zi Tang here

Juan Bi Tang

Source date: 1178 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and harmonizes the Protective and Nutritive Qi. Dispels Wind. Eliminates Dampness.

Why might Juan Bi Tang help with periarthritis of the shoulder?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with periarthritis of the shoulder. If it looks like you might suffer from Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Juan Bi Tang here

Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 15 herbs

Key actions: Anti-rheumatic, clears Wind, Cold and Damp Stagnation. Strengthens the function of the Liver and Kidney. Tonifies Qi and Blood.

Why might Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang help with periarthritis of the shoulder?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with periarthritis of the shoulder. If it looks like you might suffer from Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang here

Xiao Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Warms the Lungs. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Xiao Qing Long Tang help with periarthritis of the shoulder?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm, a pattern sometimes associated with periarthritis of the shoulder. If it looks like you might suffer from Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Xiao Qing Long Tang here

Ma Huang Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Releases exterior cold. Treats wheezing.

Why might Ma Huang Tang help with periarthritis of the shoulder?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat , a pattern sometimes associated with periarthritis of the shoulder. If it looks like you might suffer from , this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Ma Huang Tang here

Ge Gen Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior and muscle layer. Forms Body Fluids.

Why might Ge Gen Tang help with periarthritis of the shoulder?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat , a pattern sometimes associated with periarthritis of the shoulder. If it looks like you might suffer from , this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Ge Gen Tang here