Thai Massage Heals Frozen Shoulder Syndrome

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      There has recently been an increased number of incidents of frozen shoulder syndrome in Thailand, more likely among women than men, during ages 50-60. Shoulders are the most performed joints on a daily basis such as raising the arms over head to operate at high angles and heavy lifting. Frozen shoulder syndrome can be explained by restricted range of motion that inhibits daily-living functions such as combing hair, putting on clothing, scratching and soaping the back, for example.

      The syndrome is caused by inflammation and thickening of the joint capsule resulted in decrease of motion. The progression of the syndrome starts from pain in the shoulder which would be worsened at night, to phase two of decreased pain but also even more decreased range of motion, and then phase three of recuperation and better movement. If no improvement for 12-42 months, a surgery or medication would be considered. However, medication or a surgery could cause complications among the elderly patients who would also take longer time to recuperate. These are the reasons why many patients are turning to Thai massage as an alternative treatment. Added benefits like affordability and preserving Thai folklore wisdom also help.

      A team of traditional medicine practitioners are highly-skilled in Thai massage with over 30 years of experience. However, even though Thai massage has received high praise for its effective treatment, it is still lacking in empirical evidence. Therefore, a study on this topic was initiated to confirm its effectiveness in healing frozen shoulder syndrome.


Research Method

      Thirty men and women in 40-60 age group from Songkhla Province were sampled for the study. Each was interviewed on medical history and examined for range of motion of the shoulder by Goniometer in two positions, abductor and flexion. Normal values for both positions are 170-180 degrees. Pain level was also measured by Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) with indicator from 0-10 (painless to most painful). Both range of motion and pain level values were measured prior to patients receiving the massage and then again 1 week after (a follow-up). Fifteen points of massage are shown in picture 1. The control group received the massage once a day, one hour each, for 3 consecutive days. The study looked at the average values of range of motion and pain level.

Fifteen points of massage (right shoulder)e negative result, on the other hand, means the patient is not at risk to use Carbamazepine.

Point 1 top corner of the scapula

Point 2 center the scapula

Point 3 lower corner of the scapula

Point 4 curve of neck

Point 5 middle of shoulders

Point 6 top of shoulders

Point 7 middle of upper arms (outer side)

Point 8 outside of elbows

Point 9 chest

Point 10 middle point above the collar bones

Point 11 middle point under the collar bones

Point 12 front of shoulders

Point 13 underarm (back)

Point 14 underarm (front)

Point 15 underarm (middle)

Results and Findings

      Research indicated that majority of the patients with frozen shoulder syndrome were female, average age of 55 years, and worked as government officials. The common cause of the syndrome was due to repeated movements on a daily basis or overusing the muscle around the shoulder area.

      Findings revealed that the scores of before and after receiving the massage treatments, designed by Dr. Kanit Kemapanmanus, indicated tremendous improvement of range of motion and the pain level. The comparison of scores measured in both positions before and after (a week of) the third massage session also showed significant improvement. The 15-point massage method emphasizes applying pressure and stretching muscles around the scapula, shoulder, upper arm, neck, chest and underarm, all of which facilitate the motion of the shoulder. Moreover, the massage treatment stimulates circulation and nervous system to promote relaxation and flexibility as well as better range of motion and relieving pain.

      In conclusion, the 15-point massage treatment is not only an alternative to cure Frozen Shoulder Syndrome but also a way to preserve Thai conventional wisdom.


Kochakorn Sukjan Inthanuchit, Soohaila Samuso, Fateeha Ama and Rotjanalak Kuakoon
Faculty of Traditional Thai Medicine, Prince of Songkla University
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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