Updated: Sep 29, 2021
Treating Sports Injuries with Acupuncture in Denver
Summertime in Colorado means one thing to our athletic population: sports activity. From mountain biking, road cycling, mountain climbing, hiking, running, water sports and more, we do it all.
At times, our summertime fun comes at a price as we injure our bodies doing what we love.
Did you know that there is a natural alternative to treating pain and injury? Of course, any serious injury should first be treated at the ER as needed…but what about post-operative care? And what about those pesky injuries that are not serious enough for hospitalization, but just serious enough to put you out of commission for a while?
The mainstream Western treatment for pain is often little more than drug therapy using a cocktail of painkillers and cortisone shots that do little more than provide a temporary solution that can mask the underlying problem. In addition, these methods may cause negative side effects such as drowsiness, nausea, and foggy headedness.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture are an effective treatment for all types of pain and injury. Acute injuries that we may incur doing sports related activities respond favorably to acupuncture and herbal therapy. From sprained ankles and broken bones to ACL tears, rotator cuff injuries and even head trauma, an acupuncturist can treat it all…and with notable results.
So let’s talk a little bit more about how Chinese medicine can treat your injury, and get you back to doing the sports you love!
But first, what is Pain? Pain is the bodies’ way of telling you that something is wrong. In Chinese medicine we say that where there is no free-flow, there is pain. Conversely, where there is stagnation, there is pain. It’s hard to talk about the concept of ‘free-flow’ without mentioning the concept of ‘qi’. Although the definition of what qi is can differ, it can be loosely translated as energy.
Energy in Western society often implies a sense of the metaphysical, so let’s give it some concrete conceptualization. The qi energy is the key to all of the functions of the body. Qi can be oxygen, blood, lymph, hormones, nutrients, body fluids, etc…you get the picture. When there is a blockage or stagnation of any of these, pain and dysfunction results. For our purposes here, let’s just use the term qi.
So what happens when you sustain an injury from falling off your bike, pulling a muscle golfing, or running to the point of a stress fracture? Your body basically goes through the three stages of trauma: Acute, Post-Acute, and Chronic. Each phase is unique in presentation and is treated differently at each stage.
The acute phase can last up to a week and treatment in this phase focuses on reducing inflammation and swelling, stopping bleeding, relieving pain, promoting circulation to the area to encourage tissue healing. Basically at this stage, we promote the movement of qi.
Some of the methods I use at this stage include electro acupuncture for pain relief and also to provide advanced stimulation and healing to the injury. Cupping is effective as well, especially when combined with a bleeding technique to relieve swelling and inflammation. Topical herbs can be applied here to achieve the same result.
The post-acute phase can last up to a month after the injury is sustained. In this phase, most of the inflammation should be gone and swelling has gone down. Our focus here is to further promote circulation to the area to vitalize the tissues, and break up any qi stagnation that may be occurring, such as scar tissue formation or stagnant areas of blood. Electro acupuncture and regular needling is useful at this stage, and internal herbs can be prescribed to promote regeneration of soft tissues like ligaments, and calcification of bone.
In the final chronic stage, the injury site may be qi deficient and weak at this point from lack of use and from being sick. Our focus here is to build it back up by nourishing the tissues and continuing to break up any qi stagnation that may be occurring. Again, both electro acupuncture and regular acupuncture work great here, as well massage to break up scar tissue, and internal herbs to strengthen the body, and to promote circulation and delivery of nutrients to the injury site, plus prevent occurrence of arthritic conditions.
It is always best to seek treatment immediately following an injury. The quicker we can start the process of healing, the quicker you will recover! Conversely, when you wait to get treatment until the injury reaches the chronic stage, it will take longer to achieve healing.
So, the next time you sprain your wrist biking, get a stress fracture running that half marathon, or tear your ACL shooting hoops with your friends, think about acupuncture and herbal therapy to help you along your path to a quicker recovery. Call me today for a free consultation and let’s get you healed up and ready to go!
Joanne Trujillo, L.Ac, MSOM
Highlands Northwest Denver
2543 Eliot St
Denver CO 80211
Call Joanne, a professional Licensed Acupuncturist, today for a complementary consultation!
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