Acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain management since it helps the body heal the injury rather than merely mask the pain as is usually the case with allopathic (western) medicinal therapies. Sports injuries are very common amongst people with active lifestyles. Most sports-related injuries occur when a particular part of the body is overused such as runner’s knee or through a repetitive stress injury like tennis elbow.
Eastern medicine views pain as an obstructive syndrome where there is an interruption of vital energy, blood or fluids to the afflicted area. During an acupuncture treatment, the needles are placed along certain acupoints that help the body redirect this energy to the afflicted area. Physiologically speaking, the manipulation of these acupoints causes a two-fold reaction that heals the pain. First, the treatment causes the body to release certain neurohormones, such as endorphins and encephalins, which inhibit pain impulses. Secondly, acupuncture also acts as a nerve block steering the nerve impulses away from the painful nerve group. Studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have shown a reduction of nerve activity related to pain while the area is being treated through acupuncture.
Along with prescribing a treatment of acupuncture, the Practitioner may also recommend additional combinations of treatments such as massage/bodywork, Gua Sha, moxibustion, electric-stimulation or cupping.
Acupuncture has a very successful record with sports injuries. Many professional sports teams have acupuncturists on staff to decrease healing times and resolve stubborn ailments. But the use of acupuncture to treat acute injuries from intense or repetitive physical activity began centuries ago. It was and still is one of the primary means of quick healing for the martial arts. Specific acupuncture styles and techniques were developed to stop pain and dramatically increase recovery time. This tradition continues today and its use has expanded into competitive athletics that result in similar injuries.