The musculoskeletal system consists of connective tissues including joints, ligaments, and tendons. Problems with the musculoskeletal system can result in inflammation and pain, and ultimately reduce the body’s overall health. Increasingly, people are looking for more natural approaches to help relieve painful musculoskeletal conditions instead of relying on medications.
Well known for its effectiveness in reducing most types of pain, acupuncture is also used to treat pain from injuries–specifically those predominantly due to trauma or overuse syndromes involving the musculoskeletal system and its soft tissues. Trauma to these soft tissues, including ligaments, tendons and muscles are generally the result from falls, blows, sprains/strains, collisions, compressions, crushing and disruptions of the healing processes due to inflammation.
Acupuncture is a good therapy choice because it has no side effects and can be helpful for all types of pain, regardless of what is causing the pain or where the pain is located. Some studies have shown the pain relief provided by acupuncture can last for months.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain before and after acupuncture treatment for pain shows dramatic decreases in brain activity by up to 70 percent. This decrease in activity in certain areas of the brain is thought to be the reason for the reduction of pain caused by the acupuncture treatments.
Acupuncture and Herbs for Injury Rehab and Relief
After sustaining an injury, the healing process goes through two stages. The first is called the acute stage and is characterized by redness, swelling, inflammation and pain. The second is the chronic stage in which a patient may experience pain only when overusing the injured body part. Noticeable signs of inflammation may be nonexistent or minimal. In general, acute stages last from a few days to about three weeks, at which point any residual problems and pain are considered to have reached the chronic stage.
Physical trauma resulting from accidents, post-operative conditions, labor, disease or other causes requires different treatment for each stage of convalescence. Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Wholefood supplementation provide a comprehensive treatment from the very beginning of an injury throughout recovery. To help rehabilitate a patient and provide pain relief after an injury, a practitioner may have to resolve a condition known as blood stasis.
Blood stasis, according to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, occurs when the flow of blood slows down and blood begins to congeal. The pain associated with this condition is fixed, sharp and with clear boundaries. This means the pain does not change locations and can be located precisely by the patient. A good example of blood stasis is a bruise on the leg. Judging by the color changes on the skin, unpleasant sensations and perhaps some puffiness, it is evident the leg endured a physical trauma. All evidence points to an eruption of blood vessels resulting in a small, visible pool of blood.
For a patient contending with the aftermath of an injury, getting back on one’s feet again may take a variety of modalities to provide pain relief and help in regaining full mobility and range of motion in the injured area.
Tendonitis Relief and Recovery
Tendonitis is a painful condition resulting from inflammation of the tendons. Tendons are thick bands of strong fibrous tissue that link bone to muscle. Although they are designed to withstand extreme pressure, certain circumstances will produce swelling and pain in the area. Sometimes performing the same movements repetitively over a long period of time can lead to tendonitis. At other times, a sudden or jarring traumatic event can be the cause.
Repetitive motions from activities like gardening, cleaning, typing, and using the computer can lead to achy, inflamed tendons. Bad posture and not properly stretching before a substantial workout may also be a factor in the condition. As well, some diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or diabetes may lead to tendonitis.
Those over 40 years old are at a higher risk for developing tendonitis. Collagen fibers provide the force that binds all the components of the tendons together, but become weaker and less resistant to stress as we age. The result can be more tears and trauma inflicted on the tendons.
The areas most commonly prone to tendonitis include the base of the thumb, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is located on the back of the foot, just above the heel. No matter what body part is affected, acupuncture and Oriental medicine may help provide relief and speed up recovery time.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, conditions of pain may be caused by cold or heat, so one of the first things to be determined is whether the afflicted tendon is suffering from a hot or a cold condition. To help explain this, envision an avid tennis player with a red, swollen elbow. The pain is so bad that the arm cannot be used properly. There is visible swelling and the area is warm to the touch. This would clearly indicate a condition of heat, so massage and heat therapies would only aggravate the pain.
Now picture a retired gardener with pain in his right elbow. The pain is in a fixed location and slight swelling is visible. His body often feels cold, especially his hands and the elbow with tendonitis. Chilly, damp nights increase the levels of pain to the point where he needs to take pain relievers. Light massage and heat therapies alleviate the pain and feel good when applied. All factors point to a condition of cold. These two patients will receive largely different treatments since they do not share the same diagnosis.