Can acupuncture help with acute sprains and strains?
Acupuncture is based on the concept of energy or Qi that flows through the body. Qi is a holistic concept nourishing all structures and functions in the body from the nails and skin, internal organs and all soft tissues including muscles, tendons and cartilage. Qi flows in pathways or channels which travel though the body and either down or up a limb. These channels travel on the outside and inside of the arms and legs. These channels are bilateral, meaning it is the same for each side of the body. As Qi travels through an area such as the elbow or knee it nourishes all the local tissues of that joint or body part. Importantly this also applies to the spine and all the muscles and nerves that are associated with its function and structure. The Qi will flow either upwards or downwards distributing Qi to local structures along the way.
If you sprain your ankle or develop a tennis elbow the Qi flow will be disturbed and create stagnancy or pooling of energy. The same can be said for lower back strain or shoulder injuries. This Traditional Chinese Medicine concept of acute Qi stagnation could be compared to the development of inflammation, a reaction by the body to deal with tissue damage. To promote the fastest recovery, Qi must flow through an injury site bringing nourishment and taking away the effect of trauma. If a joint or group of muscles have been damaged either a sprain or tear, treating the actual site may cause further bleeding and bruising thereby exacerbating the original injury. The regular RICE (rice, rest, compression and elevation) treatment certainly applies for acute sprains and strains however an acupuncture treatment soon after the injury has occurred will always help promote better recovery. Acupuncture points distal and near to the injury sight can be used without causing further trauma to the injury.
As time goes by it is more relevant to treat the specific site of the injury. Acupuncture points closer to the injury are chosen in combination with peripheral points. This treatment is usually done in conjunction with remedial massage. Acupuncture and remedial massage provide an excellent treatment combination to prevent the injury from reoccurring or adhesions forming between muscles, nerves and tendons creating weakness and pain.
Hopefully a not more than a few treatments will be needed for a complete recovery. Often extensive injuries will require more long term care.
Gardenvale Traditional Chinese Medicine