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Acupuncture Muscle and Joint Pain

Pain due to muscle or joint dysfunction affects us all at some time or another.  Whether you injure yourself exercising, develop a problem from hours spent at a computer, or suffer arthritic pain, our acupuncture can provide you with the pain relief you need (and it’s drug free).

Everyday we treat a wide variety of painful conditions due to muscle and joint dysfunction.  The majority of our clients report a significant improvement after the first treatment, including many people who’ve had no success with physiotherapy and /or chiropractic.

Our approach is to fix the cause of your painful condition, and to teach you how to prevent the problem from coming back.  We use the best techniques from traditional and modern medicine to find a solution that works for each patient.  We understand that because no two bodies are the same, no two painful conditions are the same.

Whether you have a sore shoulder, bad back, tight neck or achy knees, call us today to make an appointment and get on the road to recovery.   

Read what our expert acupuncturist, Jill Pahl says about the treatment of pain:

Jill, how do you identify a muscle or joint (musculoskeletal) problem?

Obviously pain is present in the majority of muscle problems.  Pain can manifest in many ways: as an ache, dull pain, sharp (stabbing) pain, or a feeling of tightness.  However, there are many more indicators of musculoskeletal dysfunction: swelling and/or redness (these indicate inflammation); pins & needles or numbness (these can be symptomatic of nerve involvement); or decreased range of motion (showing problems with joints, ligaments, tendons, or muscles).

There may be a history of trauma, such as an accident or sporting injury; or history of overuse such as long hours of sitting at a computer for work, or repetitive movements.  Knowing the cause of the pain will help our diagnosis and treatment, and give you tips on how to avoid it coming back.

What are the most common causes of musculoskeletal pain?

In my experience the most common cause of muscle pain are ‘knots’ in muscle, leading to tight muscles and connective tissue (tendons and ligaments), or even nerve impingements.  This can occur in any part of the body.  Of course soft-tissue injuries such as strains and sprains, as well as scar tissue from old injuries are also predominant causes.

Can you explain a little more about muscle ‘knots’?

When a muscle is overworked or overloaded a ‘knot’ develops, which is a tight band within the muscle.  This leads to pathological muscular contraction and pain.  Often, a person with muscle pain will have multiple knots in several muscles.  Without treatment these knots get progressively worse until the pain becomes so bad that it forces a person to seek help.  Acupuncture doesn’t mask pain like painkilling medication does, but treats the cause, which is better for your body.

A healthy muscle should be able to fully relax and contract: a tight muscle, then, because it cannot totally relax, is also weakened.

Why is acupuncture so effective for pain?

I insert the acupuncture needle into the muscle, sometimes directly into the knot.  This stimulates the muscle to relax, and produces a ‘muscle twitch’ or ‘muscle release’.  I am able to see and feel such muscle twitches, and often the patient can too. 

I also use my knowledge of acupuncture channels to make a comprehensive diagnosis.   Using both western anatomy and physiology with traditional acupuncture gives me a full picture of what’s causing a person’s pain, and allows me to know exactly how to treat it.

Acupuncture also improves circulation through areas of pathological muscular tension, reduces inflammation and stimulates the healing process in muscles.  This latter effect helps to avoid the development of fibrocytic  scar tissue or adhesions (hardened, inelastic  tissue) where musculoskeletal problems are, resulting in a full recovery and a decreased risk of future relapse (the problem occurring again).

Do you use other techniques when treating pain? If so, why?

Yes.  While traditional acupuncture forms the primary treatment, I regularly use other techniques, such as remedial massage; electro-acupuncture; cupping; guasha and moxibustion.  No two patients are the same, so no two problems are ever quite the same.  This is why my treatment is always different for each person. These other techniques can, when appropriate, greatly complement and strengthen the effect of the acupuncture.

Who’s at risk of musculoskeletal pain?

We all are.  Different groups of people tend to suffer different pain problems:

  • Office-workers and students tend to spend long hours sitting at a computer desk.  These people often develop neck, shoulders, elbows and wrist problems.  These painful conditions have often been present for a long time, as they tend to gradually get worse over time.
  • Sports people: back, hamstrings, groin; legs, shoulders; these people often develop pain problems in the major muscles of the body due to their exercise regime.  These painful conditions can happen suddenly (traumatic injury) or over the long term due to repetitive movements.
  • Mature people: degenerative and inflammatory conditions e.g. osteo-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, tennis elbow and frozen shoulder, often affect people from their fifties.  Such problems tend to have joint inflammation with associated muscular tension.

How long does it take to fix muscle pain?

A general rule is that the longer you’ve had the problem the longer it takes to sort out.  For example, in the case of acute neck pain (torticollis) – when someone wakes up and can’t turn their head, usually only 1-2 treatments are necessary.  However, for a person who has OOS (Occupational Overuse Syndrome – formally known as RSI) of the wrist due to years of long hours of computer use, it’s expected to take longer until the pain is totally gone.  Such people may need 6-8 treatments or more.

It’s important to be aware of this though:  that although you might have experienced the pain for a relatively short time (say, for example, 3 weeks), the knots in your muscles may have been developing over a much longer period.  I  can always tell if this is the case by palpating (feeling) and sometimes just looking – muscles which have been in distress for a long time are hard and tender to touch and usually have multiple knots.

Do you give your patients exercises or stretches to do at home to help with their treatment?

Yes, absolutely.  And these stretches are simple and take very little time to do, so my patients can easily fit them into their busy schedule. As my patients improve I give them more advanced stretches to do.

Do you have any tips for people to prevent muscle pain from developing?

Yes, I have many!  Here are a couple:

Posture

Get into the habit of having good posture – although it may feel relaxing, slouching (whether  standing or sitting) places strain on muscles.

Take regular breaks from the computer – stretching during this time is very beneficial (these breaks also help avoid eye strain).

Have your work-station assessed ergonomically – a desk and chair that is the right fit for you will relieve some of the strain on your body during all those hours you spend at work.

Get a back-pack – they may not be fashionable, but carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder places great strain on the body and often leads to neck, shoulder and back problems.

Always lift heavy objects with good posture – use your knees to lift instead of your back.

Exercise

Always warm-up and cool-down before and after physical exercise – this decreases the risk of sprains and strains.

If you start to feel an unusual pain during an exercise – stop or at least slow down – it may be a signal from your body telling you that something is wrong and shouldn’t be ignored.

Do a variety of exercises – e.g. if you are a runner, swap one of your runs each week with a swimming session or a bike ride  – this works different muscles (giving your running muscles a chance to have a little break), while still contributing to improving fitness.

Eat well

Eat plenty of nutritious food and stay hydrated – muscles require proper nutrition in order to repair/heal properly and grow.

Get treatment

Don’t put off getting treatment if something hurts – the longer you wait the more serious it becomes and the longer it will take to rectify. Call us to book an acupuncture treatment and schedule a massage to work out tight, sore and "knotted" muscles.  727-502-3464.

 

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