Whether as professionals or amateurs, whether pushing the body to its limits (and beyond) or just playing for fun, sports participants can not always avoid sports injuries. These injuries can range from minor to quite serious. Both soft tissue injuries and bone fractures are observed. A very short list of common soft tissue injuries includes:
- tennis elbow
- golfer’s elbow
- rotator cuff tendonitis
- meniscal tears
- low back strain
- trick knee
- ankle sprain
- shin splints
- trigger finger
- frozen shoulder
- plantar fasciitis
- shoulder dislocation
- hamstring pull
Besides unavoidable awkward accidents and impacts, contributing factors may include not warming up properly, using inadequate equipment, training too hard, and pushing the body far beyond its trained limits.
Treatment plans for sports injuries seek to relieve pain, control inflammation, accelerate healing, and maintain strength, flexibility and stability.
Conventional Treatment of Sports Injuries
Acute injuries, those that happened recently, usually are treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This immediately addresses the swelling and tenderness and may reduce the period of pain. Where the injury is more serious, anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics, corticosteroid injections, immobilization, physiotherapy and surgery may be advised.
Chronic injuries can be caused by an underlying structural condition such as a loss of cartilage, formation of scar tissue, or degenerative damage of any kind, which may be the result of long-term repetitive motions.
Why We Recommend Acupuncture
Acupuncture stimulates the body’s own natural pain killers and anti-inflammatory and anti-stress hormones, thereby speeding recovery time by encouraging the body to reduce any excessive reactions to the injury (too much pain, inflammation and swelling). Acupuncture also adds to any conventional treatment plan with its focus on invigorating and strengthening specific parts of the body, again speeding recovery.
Typically, 3 to 4 acupuncture treatments will resolve conditions that are not too severe. Chronic conditions require more lengthy periods of treatment and rehabilitation. Often, the first signs of improvement in chronic conditions comes after 8 to 10 acupuncture treatments.
Studies Confirm Acupuncture’s Effectiveness
Controlled studies of acupuncture in treating sports injuries have shown that:
- acupuncture reduced pain in patients with plantar fasciitis (Zhang 2001)
- electroacupuncture had better therapeutic effects than medication, both in the short and long term, in patients with acute lumbar strain (Yao-chi 2007)
- acupuncture reduced the pain of patellofemoral pain syndromes (Jensen 1999)
- acupuncture was effective for soft tissue disease (Yuan 1989)
There are many reported case studies, as well:
- stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors (e.g. neuropeptide Y, serotonin), and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987, Han 2004, Zhao 2008, Zhou 2008, Lee 2009, Cheng 2009)
- reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003)
- improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009)