Choosing an Acupuncturist
Many people are confused when they are looking for the right acupuncturist. Five Element. TCM. Master Tung. So many options. What is right for you? While all of those distinctions do matter, the most important thing to know is whether or not a particular acupuncturist is right FOR YOU.
One thing to keep in mind is that most acupuncturists are general practitioners. Much like family doctors, they treat a little of this and a little of that. We’re different. We focus entirely on treating pain, sports injuries and other muscular and skeletal complaints. So, if you’ve been injured, are experiencing chronic pain or are looking to maximize your athletic performance, read on.
What Makes Orthopedic Acupuncture Special?
While most traditional acupuncture styles focus on balancing out the body’s organ systems, Orthopedic Acupuncture specifically targets the muscles and joints, and the nerve pathways that affect them. The goal is to restore normal, pain-free movement.
Many things can cause a muscle to be weak. Most of us think that if we’re weak, we just need to go to the gym more. While this is often true, there may be other causes for the weakness. Painful inputs to the nervous system – from injuries, arthritis, or over training just to name just a few – can also cause muscles to become weak because of how signals are processed in the spine. And when a muscle is weak, the joint or joints that it moves don’t move properly. Over time, this can cause pain or further injury.
Now for the good news. For most people, this type of muscular weakness can be treated within a few treatments. Orthopedic acupuncture has been shown to “neuromodulate” – that is, to affect how the nerves fire. This helps restore the muscle’s normal ability to squeeze and relax.
Muscles move joints. Think about your elbow. You have muscles on the back of your arm that straighten your elbow, and others on the front of your arm that bend your elbow. Normally, the muscles that work on a joint should work about the same amount. This allows for normal, pain-free movement.
Sometimes, this pull isn’t balanced. Many things can cause this. Sometimes, it is because we use one set of muscles more than the other. For instance, a pitcher uses the muscles that drive his arm forward more than he uses the ones that pull it backward. The same thing can happen if you work at a desk all day – leaning forward with arms outstretched for 8 hours at a time.
Like I mentioned before, injuries or over training can cause muscles to shut down. Researcher Vladmir Janda, M.D. figured out that here are also some muscles that have a natural tendency to be too tight or too loose. Regardless of the cause, muscle imbalances can lead to pain and reduced athletic performance.
The good news is that orthopedic acupuncture can help. Like I mentioned above, Orthopedic acupuncture has been shown to affect how the nerves that go to muscles fire. This helps restore the muscle’s normal ability to squeeze and relax.
The “Pain-Inflammation-Pain” Cycle
My mentor, Dr. Anthony Lombardi, talks about the pain-inflammation-pain cycle. What he’s talking about is “neurogenic inflammation.” When certain nerves are irritated in a way that produces pain, they can release inflammatory chemicals like CGRP, Bradykinin, and Neurokinin A . These chemicals cause a bunch of things to happen. The most obvious is… you guessed it… MORE PAIN. And the cycle continues.
The GOOD NEWS is that acupuncture and dry needling have been shown to reduce the release of these pain-causing chemicals and cause the release of pain killing chemicals. This breaks the pain-inflammation-pain cycle and helps get your body on the path to healing and pain-free movement.
So What about Trigger Points?
Trigger points are sore spots in tight bands in your muscles. Normally, they shouldn’t be there. Injury, infections, stress, over training and about a hundred other things can cause them to form. They’re different from regular tight muscles. Trigger points are basically little inflammation factories. What’s even weirder, trigger points can cause pain and other symptoms in totally different parts of the body – away from where the real problem is.
The good news is that Dry Needling Acupuncture quickly relaxes these tight bands. Even more importantly, it has been shown to quickly reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals. This relieves pain and restores function.
Other Tools: Soft Tissue Therapies
Orthopedic needling creates the perfect opportunity to use soft tissue techniques. My mentor, Dr. Anthony Lombardi made the following analogy: When you have a problem, it’s like when your computer freezes. Acupuncture helps re-boot the computer. Soft tissue helps repair the hardware.
To put it more simply, the soft tissue is what ties everything together and makes it move. Injury, years of over training or improper movement patterns, etc can produce what can best be thought of as “scar tissue” to form. Targeted use of soft tissue therapies can help break this up, along with providing proprioceptive input to your brain, letting it know that you have new – a.k.a. “normal” – range of motion.
Tuina is is a system of Chinese medical massage. Historically, it has been closely linked to martial arts and was passed down through apprenticeships. Think about it. The leader who could get his men healthy again the fastest would be more likely to win the next battle. It’s not surprising, then, that tuina is one of Chinese Medicine’s most effective tools to help you recover from a wide variety of musculoskeletal injuries and trauma.
Tuina is not your typical relaxing massage; the aim is explicitly therapeutic. It uses active and passive stretching and soft tissue and joint mobilizations, and other techniques that are similar to western myofascial release. Like other sports medicine techniques we use, the goal is to restore normal, pain free movement.
Gua Sha is a traditional form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization. It involves rubbing / scraping the skin with a round-edged instrument. Usually, I use a specially cut piece of jade. Traditionally, it is thought to improve blood circulation in the muscle and other tissue.
It is also used to break up myofascial adhesions in the areas that we treat. Fascia is the “shrink wrap” around your muscles, blood vessels and other tissues. Normally, sheets of fascia slide smoothly over one another. Injury, over training, inflammation or other causes can cause cross linkages and / or “scar tissue” to form, which prevent normal gliding and elasticity. Gua Sha, along with tuina can help to break up those adhesions and improve mobility. Usually, patients experience immediate improvement in stiffness, pain and movement following a treatment.
So Why Choose Our Clinic?
Simply put: results. We specialize in treating pain, and improving musculoskeletal function and sports performance. Our goal is to restore normal movement patterns, reduce neurogenic inflammation and help you feel and move your best. We successfully treat patients of all ages and skill levels, from professional athletes to weekend warriors; children to great-grandparents; office workers to law enforcement and members of the military.
We combine modern, science based acupuncture techniques, like dry needling, with orthopedic and manual muscle testing, tuina and other soft tissue techniques. This lets us tailor your treatment specifically to you.
We believe that everything is connected. Injury, dysfunction or muscular imbalances in one part of the body can cause pain or dysfunction somewhere else. By looking at the big picture, we can get to the root of why your are in pain or what is holding you back from your performance gains.
Above all, everything we do is driven toward helping you reach your health goals. Call us TODAY to book your appointment! (315) 935-5700
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