The Use of Shiatsu in Treating People with Shoulder Pain - A Pilot Study

By Anne Palmer


A protocol was developed to explore the use of Shiatsu in treating people with shoulder pain.

Using a single study case design (4x ml studies) the progress of four people who had been suffering from unexplained and previously intractable shoulder pain for between two and eight years was monitored. The subjects received eight weekly Shiatsu treatments at their local GP surgery.

Outcomes were measured using both objective (measurements of joint mobility) and subjective (SF-36 Health Questionnaire) methods at weeks 1, 5, 8 and at a follow-up two months later.

The physical, diagnostic and energetic aspects of Shiatsu treatment are described, together with a review of the limited research material available.

The results were encouraging, with three out of the four participants showing great improvements in mobility, reduction in pain, and increase in general well-being during the course of the treatments. Some of these improvements were reduced at the follow-up, but not to the original low levels. The fourth participant did not complete the course of treatments.

The strengths and weaknesses of the design are discussed and suggestions for further research are made.

The protocol proved to be effective. A modified version of this protocol may now be used to repeat the study in a number of centres. It is hoped, thereby, to accumulate a significant body of evidence which will further support the findings of this preliminary study, that Shiatsu is indeed effective in treating people with shoulder pain.