Can acupuncture help with sprains and strains, what does the research say?
A study of 1,200 basketball players with reported ankle sprains was conducted by the Department of Physical Education at Changsha Normal University and in conjunction with the Institute of Sport at Jishou University, to look at the efficacy of acupoint application and acupoint massage in treating these injuries. The participants were treated with routine care, such as icing, compression, elevation and stabilization, as well as acupuncture and massage. The results of the study showed the participants who received the additional acupuncture and massage had shorter hospital stays, less pain and less need for pain medications.
Sprains and strains are common, not just in athletes, but also the everyday person. A sprain is defined as a stretch or tear of a ligament. A strain, on the other hand, is defined as an injury to a muscle or tendon. Sprains can result from a fall, a sudden twist or a blow to the body that forces a joint out of place, while a strain can happen from twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon.
Instinctively, when a person experiences a sprain or a strain, either learned first aid skills take over or they may immediately go to the emergency room. Most commonly the "RICE" protocol is followed: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevate the injured area. Things like taking the pressure off the joint, raising the joint and applying ice to alleviate swelling and inflammation are all great places to start and many times this is exactly what happens in the emergency room. Icing a sprain or strain is only good for the first 48 to 72 hours, as it will help decrease swelling. However, prolonged use of ice may impair movement and also interfere with the healing process because it constricts the tissues and impedes blood flow. But there are other possible solutions to healing a sprain or a strain. And one of these would be to see an acupuncturist for pain relief and to speed healing.
Dr. Ellie has many tools at her disposal that can assist in increased healing of a strain or sprain. When either of these injuries occur, the muscles surrounding the area tighten up in an effort to protect the injured site. This can then lead to stiffness in that joint. This is the body’s natural defense mechanism that decreases strong blood flow to the area. We use acupuncture and other modalities to help loosen up the muscles and increase blood flow to the area, which brings in tissue-healing oxygen and nutrients.
Increasing blood flow is just one way acupuncture can help. There are also specific acupressure points that reduce swelling, decrease inflammation and alleviate pain. Through the use of regular acupuncture treatments immediately following a sprain or strain injury, the body can heal faster. The more frequently the person can come in for treatments, the quicker the results will occur. Acupuncture for sprains and strains just might be your starting point to healing quicker and finding lasting pain relief!
To schedule an appointment, please call our office at (425) 686-4498 and to see if you qualify for our reduced rates for the Pain Relief Project.