If you have ever sprained a joint or tweaked a muscle, then you have likely been frustrated by conventional medicine’s lack of useful tools for healing your injury. Ice, compression, elevation and drugs only get you so far. They dull the pain, but do little to return you to your pre-injury state.
Sports medicine is one area where Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) excels. I learned this early in my career when a patient in a wheelchair was brought in to see me by her fiancé. She had twisted her ankle while dancing in high heels. Though not a traditional sports injury, the resulting grapefruit-sized ankle was much the same.
I treated her with acupuncture and tuina (Chinese therapeutic massage), and prescribed a formula of Chinese herbs. The following day, she came in on crutches; the next with a cane; and on the fourth visit, she walked with barely a limp. By this last visit, the swelling was almost imperceptible.
With a little counseling on the dangers of alcohol mixed with high heels and samba, she was off to get married.
TCM treatments are not just for ankles, though. We treat the rest of the body just as well, from joints as small as fingers and toes to knees, hips, shoulders and elbows. Every day, by restoring range of motion and relieving pain, we help people get back on the court, field, links or just back to their lives, able to function as they did before their injuries.
The results of TCM are undeniable, so the question is: how does it work? First, acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins—the body’s own natural painkillers. Acupuncture, tuina and herbs increase circulation by reducing swelling and the accompanying pain. Finally, acupuncture and tuina speed up the healing process of muscles, tendons and ligaments by bringing the body’s own healing crews to the injury site. Our joints are very poorly supplied with blood. In order to heal, blood flow must be repetitively encouraged into and out of these areas. We can do this with acupuncture on a very precise level. Whether your injury is old or new, TCM can help you heal.