Acupuncture is a method of treating pain and injury by way of inserting tiny, sterile needles into specific points to stimulate the body’s natural healing response. The practitioner leaves the needles in for a short period of time while the patient is in a relaxing, calming environment before removing them. The concept behind needle placement is to locate specific points in the body where nerves, muscles, and connective tissue are easily stimulated to increase and restore blood flow.
The insertion of needles is thought to trigger endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
This method of pain management has been used for thousands of years in Eastern medicine and has been researched heavily as it has made its way into modern western medical practice. In fact, recent studies reveal acupuncture to be highly effective for treating strains, sprains, joint pain, trigger points, muscle swelling, and shin splints.
Pre-Injury Recovery Process
While an effective method of injury and illness rehabilitation, acupuncture also plays a large role in the pre-injury recovery process. Today, many professional sports teams employ an acupuncturist to speed up the tissue recovery process following intense bouts of exercise, training, or games. This is accomplished by promoting blood flow through the muscles to pump in fresh blood cells and pump out toxin build-up.
The benefits of acupuncture can be felt immediately in some cases, or after a few days or a few treatments in other cases.
Trigger Point Acupuncture
Trigger points, more commonly known as “knots” in the muscle and tissue, are tender, painful nodules located in the dense bands of the muscle. Trigger points cause pain not just to the area of the muscle in which they lie, but also as referred pain to other nearby areas of the body. They can be identified with deep, direct pressure, which often causes muscles to twitch involuntarily. Pain from trigger points do not usually originate from specific trauma, but from misuse or overuse over time.
Using acupuncture as a treatment for trigger point pain is a common practice. An acupuncturist can apply needles directly to the trigger points and satellite areas to release the knotted muscles. By using gentle manipulation of the needle such as spinning or tapping, the tight muscle twitches and finally releases.