Shiju Kata/Goju Kata. How many shoulders do you have?

August 3, 2014 Juju Kurihara 3 Comments

gojukataOne day my mum started complaining about the shoulder. First she thought it was a stiff shoulder and asked me to give her some massage. But it didn´t get better. After a while she couldn´t lift the arm completely, it stopped a half way. Eventually she went to see a doctor and she was diagnosed as Goju Kata (五十肩). 


Goju means 50 in Japanese. You may wonder why 50 and shoulder (肩/kata) but this is easy to explain. It´s because the problem starts in your 50s (or 40s). If this happens to you in your 40s, it´s called Shiju Kata and they are exactly the same illness. 



goju kata

 Both Shiju Kata and Goju Kata are joint pain. As you age your tendon and the joint become stiffer. By some chance it gets worse and you are not able to move your shoulder. In general, all pain related to the shoulder joint is Goju Kata. Since this happens to the people after in their 40s. That´s why this illness is called "Shiju" and "Goju" Kata.

Not everyone suffers from this and the pain is totally depending on the person. My mum didn´t complain so much and it disappeared after while. But some seem to suffer from a lot of pain.




Goju Kata was already recognised in Edo period (江戸時代 1603-1868). The medical treatment wasn´t so advanced like now, if the patient was around 50 and the pain went away naturally after some time, the doctors diagnosed them as Goju Kata.   

There are some medicines and stretch that might help to ease the pain. But once you have it, you just need to wait. The worst case of scenario, one year it will go away. 





In case you believe in Shiatsu (指圧/acpuncture), here are the pints for Shuji Kata and Goju Kata.

The base of the toes where thick pink lines are is the point for the shoulders. They work when you have stiff shoulders. 

Then below, the spots closer to the little toes are the spots you are looking for. If you have a doubt or you are diagnosed already, you can try to give those spots massage. 




More about Japanese language


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  1. Ron 7 years Reply

    This condition is actually called adhesive capsulitis and commonly called Frozen Shoulder. It affects women roughly twice as often as it does men and is most common to appear in the 5th decade of life. The condition can last from 3-5 months on the short side to 5 plus years in more severe cases. I have suffered this in my left shoulder for about 6 months and now in my right shoulder. It is important to exercise the range of motion slowly every day to maintain and increase flexibility. If you immobilize the shoulder in a sling due to the pain you will find that it will freeze up completely and be more difficult to recover full range of motion.

  2. Rick 8 years Reply

    This condition is probably bursitis ( in Japanese, 滑液包炎 ). In my experience, it seems that few Japanese people have ever heard of this expression, so I suppose shijukata and gojukata are simplistic layman’s terms for the more arcane medical term.

    • juju.kurihara 8 years

      Thank you for the commnent, Rick. I´ve heard they call it “frozen shoulder” in English. Perhaps this is the equivalent to Shiju/Goju Kata. The official name in Japanese is 肩関節周囲炎. From the look at it, it´s just a general name for any inflammation of the shoulder joint.

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