Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Online)
JAM  2016;Vol.12(1):19-23
The effect of electroacupuncture stimulation on shoulder flexibility in the elderly
Fukushima Masaya1), Watanabe Koichi2)
1) Center for Integrative Med., Faculty of Health Sciences, Tsukuba University of Technology
2) Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, Tsukuba University
Abstract
[Introduction] As is true for joints generally, shoulder joint flexibility decreases with age. Decreasing shoulder motion is related to a decline in the activities of daily living. Thus, it is beneficial for the elderly to maintain and improve shoulder flexibility. The motion of the scapulothoracic joint is dynamically controlled by muscular attachments, and a dysfunction of these muscles leads to a dysfunction of the shoulder joint. In this study, we investigated the effect of electroacupuncture stimulation of the elevator muscles of the scapulothoracic joint on shoulder flexibility in the elderly to determine whether such treatment improves flexibility.
[Method] Eight elderly women volunteers received electroacupuncture stimulation (EAS) of the elevator muscles of the scapulothoracic joint. As a control, these same women were given a period of bed rest at a later time. Shoulder joint flexibility was assessed with a back scratch test before and after each trial. Statistical analysis was performed using Tukey’s multiple comparison test; P values of less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant.
[Results] There was a significant difference between measurements before and after EAS in the downward scratch test (+7.3mm, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.44 to 14.06; P = 0.033) and upward scratch test (-11.8mm, 95% CI, -21.38 to -2.37; P = 0.009). There were no significant differences among other measurement values.
[Discussion] EAS of the elevator muscles of the scapulothoracic joint improved back scratch test measurements in the elderly. It is supposed that EAS increases muscular extensibility which affects scapula motion and induces improvement in shoulder flexibility. Further study is required to clarify the full effects of acupuncture on joint flexibility.