Sports Injuries

Sports injuries account for many orthopedic injuries. The most common sports injuries include: sprains, strains, fractures, sore and swollen muscles. For these types of injuries, Western medicine relies on the RICE method of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Eastern medicine takes a different approach to treatment, instead relying on stimulating the body’s natural response to promote healing. In Chinese medicine, pain and injury is often a result of stagnation of blood or “qi” (vital energy). Acupuncture resolves stagnation by improving blood flow to and from affected areas, helping to decrease inflammation and heal the affected tissue. Studies also show that acupuncture releases endorphins and activates neurotransmitters that help alleviate pain.

Sports injuries account for many orthopedic injuries. The most common sports injuries include: sprains, strains, fractures, sore and swollen muscles. For these types of injuries, Western medicine relies on the RICE method of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Eastern medicine takes a different approach to treatment, instead relying on stimulating the body’s natural response to promote healing. In Chinese medicine, pain and injury is often a result of stagnation of blood or “qi” (vital energy). Acupuncture resolves stagnation by improving blood flow to and from affected areas, helping to decrease inflammation and heal the affected tissue. Studies also show that acupuncture releases endorphins and activates neurotransmitters that help alleviate pain.

While traditional acupuncture is very effective at treating both acute and chronic sports injuries, Chinese medicine includes other modalities that may also prove effective. In addition to acupuncture, other techniques such as electric stimulation, cupping, gua sha, and therapeutic massage may also be used.

Electric stimulation

Electric stimulation or “E-stim” is often used in the treatment of sports injuries. E-stim helps to stimulate the needle, producing a stronger effect of the chosen acupuncture point. E-stim also helps to alleviate pain by further stimulating the neurotransmitters involved in reducing the pain response.

Cupping

Cupping is great for treating sports injuries. Cupping will help to bring stagnant blood to the surface of the affected area, allowing healthy blood to recirculate and expedite the healing process. This technique is particularly great for sore and tight muscles, helping to reduce inflammation and relieve tension.

Gua Sha

Gua Sha is a scraping technique, which is often used in the treatment of chronic sports injuries. Gua Sha is helpful in breaking up scar tissue and tension within the muscle and fascia, relieving pain and improving mobility and range of motion.

Tui Na/Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic massage or “Tui Na” is a great stand alone or adjunct treatment for sports injuries. Tui Na massage helps break down adhesions in the muscle fibers and restores circulation to the injured tissues aiding in recovery. Many Chinese medicine practitioners also use Chinese herbal liniments in combination with therapeutic massage to stimulate blood flow to the injured area and to reduce pain.

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Should you ice a sports injury?

Eastern and Western medicine differ in opinion on this particular topic. Western medicine has long relied on the RICE method of rest, ice, compression, and elevation when treating sports injuries. While ice will help to bring down the swelling of an acute injury and reduce pain, it also inhibits blood flow to and from the area. In Chinese medicine, blood flow is essential to healing and this inhibition of blood flow may result in something we call “blood stagnation.” This may cause stiffness and pain and may slow down the healing process. While icing is usually ok for acute injury within 24 hours, most acupuncturists will then recommend acupuncture and topical herbal liniments to reduce inflammation and pain while continuing to promote blood flow to and from the injury site. As always, consult with your acupuncturist or doctor regarding any sports injury.

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