Acupuncture has been around for centuries and has recently become one of the most widely used alternative therapies in the western world. It has been very well studied for multiple conditions and problems, such as pain reduction, hormonal imbalances, mental health difficulties, and injuries.
Numerous studies have been done on the benefits of acupuncture on both chronic and acute sports injuries. As you know, when playing a sport or actively exercising, there is always a risk of hurting oneself. These injuries can become chronic if not treated quickly and properly. While, physiotherapy is a great tool for healing these injuries, I have noticed in my practice that treatment programs including a combination of both acupuncture and physiotherapy are often among the fastest and most successful. This also applies to older, chronic injuries and pain management.
Musculoskeletal problems is one of the main reason people turn to acupuncture as it has been proven to help with injuries as well as an increase in athletic performance!
How is acupuncture preformed from a western medical perspective?
Acupuncture is the insertion of fine, disposable, sterile, needles into the body. It uses the points from traditional Chinese acupuncture with the knowledge of current pathology, physiology, and evidence based medicine. Traditional Chinese acupuncture locations (points) have been shown to be near areas of muscle attachment or bundles of nerve endings. Western acupuncture doesn’t use the concept of ying/yang or the flow of Qi, which is thought to be an energy source in traditional acupuncture. Due to the fact that the insertion locations are in line with attachments and nerves, using these points has a positive impact on musculoskeletal problems.
How does it work?
Acupuncture has been recognized as an acceptable form of pain management. In addition to pain from sports injuries, it can also control pain related to fibromyalgia, arthritic pain, back pain, sciatic nerve pain, menstrual cramps, tension headaches and migraines. This is achieved by reducing what is called substance P, which has been shown to cause pain.
Acupuncture has also been shown to reduce inflammatory markers which cause inflammation.
In acute sports injuries, inflammation is what causes redness, heat, swelling and of course pain. Acupuncture can significantly and quickly reduce the amount of inflammation that is occurring around the affected area.
Hypertonic or spastic muscles often occur alongside pain and injuries and can also be caused by stress, long term sitting, and poor posture. Spastic muscle are muscles that are held in a tight flexion without doing so on purpose. This can be constant or come in waves. Hypertonic muscles are muscle that aren’t completely relaxed when not in use.
Most people can relate to this when they suffer from a stiff neck or tight shoulders. During sports injuries, muscles often become hypertonic as they try to protect the area that is injured by reducing movement. Hypertonicity can also be caused by overcompensation from the opposite side of the body of the injury. For example, someone who has a hurt ankle or foot will use the other leg to stand and put more weight on this side. This will cause the muscles on the injured side of the body to become relaxed and the muscles on the compensating side to be overused. After some time these muscle become hypertonic or even spastic.
Acupuncture is a natural solution to tight muscles and spasms! Not only does acupuncture physically relax the muscles, people often leave a session feeling very mentally relaxed and calm. It is similar to how one would feel after a light therapeutic massage.
Acupuncture also works to release certain chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are our “happy hormones”, serotonin being one of them. Having serotonin released can result in increased pleasure and decreased pain.
When considering acupuncture, it is important to ensure that the practitioner is thoroughly trained. This will ensure that they have a large understanding of anatomy and know how and where to insert the needles safely.
For more information please contact Dr. Kelly Brown, N.D. at Good n’ Natural (204 326-9565) to book an appointment. Dr. Kelly is a licensed naturopathic doctor with 4 years of training in acupuncture. Naturopathic doctors who are trained in Canada have a thorough understanding of acupuncture.