Many professional, college and high school athletic teams and athletes are using acupuncture treatment for sports injuries. Sports injuries are injuries that typically occur while participating in organized sports, competitions, training sessions, or organized fitness activities. These injuries may occur for a variety of reasons, including improper training, lack of appropriate footwear or safety equipment.
The injuries are of two general types. The first type is called an acute traumatic injury. These injuries usually involve a single blow from a single application of force, like getting a cross-body block in football. The second type of sports injury is called an overuse or chronic injury. Chronic injuries are those that happen over a period of time. Chronic injuries are usually the result of repetitive training, such as running, overhand throwing, or serving a ball in tennis.
Sprain and strain of the joint and surrounded tissue are one of the most common sports related injuries (sprain involves the ligament and strain involves muscle or tendon). Besides pain, the typical inflammatory response may include swelling of the injured area, redness or purple skin discoloration, and reduced range of motion of the joint. In addition to conventional R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) treatment, many athletes have found acupuncture treatment to be very helpful in quickly suppressing inflammation and swelling.
The athletes frequently report weakness at the injury site and describe the pain as “deep and dull” aching in nature. There may also be sensations of “pins and needles”, tingling and numbness that accompanies the injury or referred sensations that travel away from the injury site. The athletes may have difficulty in locating the pain but can often reproduce the pain with particular movements. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture treatment for sports injuries are utilized to address the injury and can often help to alleviate the pain.
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Acupuncture treatment has a very successful record with sports injuries. Many professional sports teams have acupuncturists on staff to decrease healing times and resolve stubborn ailments. 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. Pain is one of the most common complaints in sports injuries followed by reduced function. The whole approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture to the treatment of pain and reduced function is to see it as a disorder in the body’s natural state. The treatment is geared toward rectifying the disorder and restoring internal harmony.
Recent studies show that acupuncture effectively treats sports injuries such as strains, sprains, neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle pain, swollen muscles and shin splints. In addition to treating the injury, Acupuncture can also improve performance and give athletes a competitive edge.
The largest clinical study of acupuncture ever conducted was published in the December 2004 Annuals of Internal Medicine and found acupuncture to significantly reduce and improve function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. In recent years, acupuncture has become more popular in Western countries and is now recognized by the National Institute of Health as an acceptable form of treatment for pain.