Case Study Series

Neck and Shoulder Pain

We know that for some people surgery is unavoidable. But it’s too often recommended when it may be unnecessary. We think it’s better to try less invasive, less risky and less permanent options first. This patient with neck and shoulder pain was able to avoid an operation after just two weeks of acupuncture, cupping and massage.

diagram showing areas of neck and shoulder pain, back spasm and arm numbness to be treated with acupuncture

Case Study


Male (59). Had gradual onset of neck pain which got very painful and hadn’t changed since. He was getting cramping and dull aches throughout the day, stabbing pain first thing in the morning and muscle spasms in the shoulder blade. There was numbness on the arm and into the thumb. The patient was having trouble sleeping and wasn’t able to swim (which he found important).

He had seen a consultant who recommended an operation on the neck, which he was keen to avoid. He had arranged to have an appointment with a second consultant to discuss his options and was keen to see if acupuncture could help relieve his pain before then.


Treatment 1: Tui Na massage on the back, neck, shoulder and arm with distal acupuncture points.

Treatment 2: Local acupuncture points around the neck and arm, cupping on the back.

Treatment 3: Balancing acupuncture points on the leg and hand, local points on the neck and massage on the shoulder and arm. Also gave some advice on gentle stretching.

Treatment 4: Local and distal acupuncture, cupping on the back and acupuncture for strengthening the lower back. As the pain was reducing, advised further gentle exercises to mobilise the back.


The patient saw his second consultant after our 4th appointment. By this point, his pain had decreased sufficiently that the consultant recommended against surgery. The neck, back and arm were significantly improved and the patient was able to do more exercises. After this, we moved on to treating some other painful areas.

“A while ago I was suffering from a pain in the cruciate ligament behind my right kneecap which made walking quite difficult. This was completely cured after Richard treated it with electro-acupuncture. The relief from pain was immediate on both resting the knee and walking.

I subsequently suffered a severe pain in the rotator cuff of my left shoulder, which meant that I was unable to raise my arm above shoulder height and unable to play golf for some time. Living some distance from Richard this injury was treated with physiotherapy sessions and massage, which helped only slightly.

Return visits to the Malvern area meant that I was able to have two acupuncture sessions about one month apart. As a result the symptoms eased considerably and the exercises prescribed by Richard have helped to continue the improvement. I am sure that if I had been able to have more frequent treatments the improvement would have been accelerated. I am now able to raise my arm pain-free above my head and have resumed playing golf.”

– Donald A.

“Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) can be very uncomfortable for 12-18 months. Although it’s a self limiting condition, which does get better, I had some osteopathic treatment (using the Simeon Niel Asher Technique) followed by some acupuncture with Richard. As an osteopath myself, I knew how to treat the condition but I reached a plateau at the end. The acupuncture with Richard really helped my shoulder go from about 70% better to 100% better with no discomfort at all and I regained a full range of movement. The treatment was gentle and effective. I am delighted to be able to recommend Richard.”

– Gayle, Registered Osteopath