Acupuncture can address inflammation and swelling both directly and indirectly. Local needling at the site of inflammation engages the inflammatory agents directly through histamine released in the tissue. Once the cascade of chemical reactions thus triggered plays itself out (over a few days), a net anti-inflammatory influence is realized, frequently accompanied by a decrease in swelling and pain from pre-treatment levels. Moreover, a skilled acupuncturist can achieve additional gains through targeted cueing and/or inhibition of muscular tone in areas where the patient’s own soft tissue generates mechanical strain on the inflamed tissue. This latter process can be critical to resolving long-term, well established chronic inflammatory conditions.
Inflammatory conditions, whether a tendonitis, regional muscular pattern, internal organ or joint presentation can be addressed by acupuncture. Not all of the physiology is well understood but studies have shown that with the application of acupuncture there is a production of cortisol, the body’s natural steroid, in the adrenal gland. This, along with a general easing of reactivity in the peripheral nervous system, combine to aid in the resolution of inflammatory disorders.