Researchers at Meiji University in Kyoto, Japan say true acupuncture is significantly better than sham, at reducing pain and improving function in patients with chronic shoulder pain. Eighteen patients, aged 42 to 65, who had experienced non-radiating shoulder pain for at least six months, were randomised to receive five weekly sessions of either acupuncture at muscular trigger points, or (sham) acupuncture at other points on the same muscles. At the end of the treatment period and compared to the sham group, pain intensity in the true acupuncture group had decreased significantly whilst shoulder function had increased significantly.
(Randomized trial of trigger point acupuncture treatment for chronic shoulder pain: a preliminary study. Journal of Acupuncture & Meridian Studies, April 2014.)