Arthritis is a common complaint of patients seeking acupuncture. The most common diagnosis within this broad category are those people who suffer with osteoarthritis which is an chronic inflammation and degeneration of the articular cartilage. Most commonly found in the the major weight bearing joints it is also most notable in the joints of the hands and fingers. The cartilage breakdown and inflammation produces spurring in and around the joints.
The acupuncture addresses the inflammation and muscular guarding and tension that occur around the joint spaces. This decrease in tension allows for less irritation in the joints and a marked decrease in pain. Despite the presence of spurring there is substantial evidence to show a marked decrease in pain levels that persist as treatment progresses.
The back is the structure that supports most of our daily activities. Over time and through repetitive use we develop postures that are not as capable of adapting to stresses as they need to be. Muscular strain occurs and is the most common form of back discomfort. It is the most predominant back pain early on. These patterns become ingrained in us and if left unattended become more problematic in later years. The muscular system of the back is intended to be a balanced entity. When this balance is altered stresses are unable to be absorbed and distributed producing pain patterns.
Acupuncture acts to release the areas where muscles are too tight and support or tone those that are weakened by disuse. The result is a more balanced back with the ability to support us in our daily activities.
A bursa is a soft tissue sac filled with fluid that your body uses to reduce friction between moveable structural components. Often bursae will exist between tendons or between tendons and bone. Bursitis is an inflammation of this sac, usually causing pain near the bursa. Acupuncture treatment may be used to control the pain, reduce the inflammation, and relieve mechanical pressure on the bursa through targeted inhibition or cueing of specific muscles in the region.
Bursitis is the inflammation of the sac that surrounds our major joints. These sacs are fluid filled and lubricate the joint space where loaded movement occurs. Irritation of the local structures is thought to be the cause. There are some opinions that weather changes affect this structure. Acupuncture and related techniques are employed and very effective in reducing the localized stresses and reduce the inflammation.
Pain that is unrelenting has many causes. The chronicity of a pain signal can become a cause in and of itself. In the treatment of a chronic pain pattern acupuncture addresses both the underlying cause of the pain as well as the pain signal. This process and response are slower because of the interplay between the injury signal of the tissue and the central nervous system memory of that signal. This approach is also what gives acupuncture its successes in the treatment of these problems.
Fibromyalgia is a noninflammatory disorder of the soft tissue. It is usually preceded by traumatic injury, acute illness or emotional trauma in which the normal recovery mechanisms do not operate properly. This results in pain, fatigue, sleep and digestive disorders. 70% of those diagnosed with FMS fit the clinical criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Acupuncture has been studied and found to be very effective in the treatment of fatigue, pain and sleep in this population. It is also effective in the treatment of digestive disorders related to FMS.
Whether tension headache, cluster headache or “true” migraine all have in common a neuromuscular trigger as a component. Some classify all headaches as variant forms of migraine.
Nevertheless, the neuromuscular component is addressed by acupuncture effectively by deactivating reactive trigger points and muscle tension and easing the reactive tone of the nervous system. Treatment is directed at interrupting the trigger and cascade of symptoms that follows in the initial phase. Follow up sessions with extended intervals can place these headaches and migraine disorders in remission.
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.
Muscle tension and dysfunction are addressed on a daily basis in the acupuncture clinic. Whether secondary to traumatic injury, overuse or ongoing stress, acupuncture has the ability to restore normal muscle tone and function.
This is a process by which you deactivate unnatural muscle firing patterns that make movements awkward, inefficient and uncomfortable. The time for the restoration/recovery process is dependent on the severity of the condition.
Neurologic disorders cover a vast array of disorders from multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s to carpal tunnel syndrome and peripheral neuropathy. These and other conditions are addressed by attempting to regulate central nervous system neuro-transmitters thereby affecting how nervous impulses travel through the various aspects of the nervous system.
In the more complex disorders such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis treatment occurs over an extended period of time. The affect of acupuncture is experienced early on in the treatment protocol and progresses slowly through the process.
Rheumatologic conditions range from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid arthritis and akylosing spondylitis. This covers a wide range of disorders affecting joints and soft tissue.
Acupuncture’s regulatory effect on structure and physilogic processes allows for pain and inflammatory reduction. Acupuncture is often coupled with medications such as Humera and Embrel which when taken decrease or arrest joint erosion. Acupuncture through its actions often allow for lower dosing of medication used in the treatment of rheumatologic conditions.
The sciatic nerve is commonly subject to irritation in two places: first, at the roots of nerves exiting the spine in the lower back before they bundle together to form the sciatic nerve, and second, in the hip region where the sciatic nerve passes through a key structural balance point. Whether the inflammation results from deep spinal structures in the lower back pinching the nerve roots, or from deep rotator muscles of the hip (most frequently the piriformis) squeezing the nerve itself, symptoms may arise all down the length of the nerve pathway, from hip to foot.
Acupuncture is effective in the treatment of this common disorder by releasing the structural restriction in the form of tight muscular patterns and reducing inflammatory agents in your system.
Shingles is the outbreak of the herpes zoster, the virus repsonsilbe for chicken pox, resulting in skin lesions, small fluid filled vesicles, and pain that transmits along the sensory nerve root from the spine never crossing the midline. In its more virulent forms it affects the eye and should be taken very seriously.
Acupuncture, although most often referred to for shingles in the chronic state known as post herpetic neuralgia, can be used as an assistant therapy along with a prescribed anti-viral in the acute phase.
Acupuncture can improve how we use our own structure. The changes we make in response to treatment can equally influence both the pain and inflammation of injury states, as well as certain sports performance related parameters such as speed and power. As an athlete, you condition your body to improve muscle contraction force and reaction speed. These changes increase your performance potential. Actual improvements in athletic skill require changes in the timing and coordination of specific muscle contractions—hence, the need for technique drills. However, athletes often acquire faulty recruitment patterns through lingering protective responses to old injuries and through the imperfection of their training techniques. Acupuncture can help remove these performance barriers through precisely targeted cueing or inhibition of specific muscle bands, determined by a particular athlete’s unique motor patterns.
Acupuncture has been employed for many years by the Chinese Olympic Teams in the training and performance regimens of their atheletes. In the past our associates have been at the US Olympic training facility for the Tae Kwon Do team and have treated various US Olympians in recovery as well as performance enhancement.
All patients, and particularly athletes or other physically active individuals, may benefit from acupuncture’s muscle-cueing, motor pattern influences to address the faulty body mechanics that predispose one to injury. This holds for acute injury with an abrupt onset as well as insidious inflammatory conditions. In truth, many so-called “over-use” injuries are really “improper-use” injuries that require retraining movements and skills to avoid mechanically stressing structural weak spots. Acupuncture can facilitate this retraining. Acupuncture also plays a role in retraining the body after injury, to restore proper movement patterns.
A popular sports injury is sprains and strains. Acupuncture’s anti-inflammatory effects may benefit acutely injured muscle, tendon, or ligament. All patients, and particularly athletes and physically active individuals, may benefit from acupuncture’s muscle-cueing, motor pattern influences to address the faulty body mechanics that predispose one to injury.
Acupuncture is one of the most studied of all post stroke recovery treatments. Studies as early as the 1980’s in Scandanvian countries documented faster and more complete recovery in the acupuncture treated groups. From scalp acupuncture to peripheral needling, acupuncture is an effective tool in all forms of stroke.
Generally, tendonitis will develop when the stresses on a tendon overwhelm the body’s repair mechanisms. This may occur in a poorly designed exercise regimen with inadequate rest periods or inappropriate conditioning for the physical challenges of an activity. Any activity performed frequently with poor body mechanics will place stress on some structural weak link—often a tendon. Acupuncture can help manage the pain of tendonitis while decreasing inflammation of the tendon. More importantly, acupuncture can be used for targeted muscle cueing (or inhibition), with the goal of reinforcing or retraining proper body mechanics through motor recruitment patterns. This will address the root cause of the inflammation and pain.
An effective tool in all forms of tendinitis, acupuncture reduces inflammation and eases movement restrictions allowing for a smoother, easier recovery. Often coordinated early on with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medication recovery is accelerated allowing for a sooner withdrawal from the medication without rebound. In lighter cases where overuse through work is not a factor acupuncture alone is sufficient.
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