Acupuncture for muscle rehabilitation

man runningMany people find it hard to recover from an injury even with rounds of therapy. Stellar athletes, weekend warriors, and people working in an office with with repetitive stress injuries can all have problems recovering from an injury.

This is particularly an issue with  and older individuals as it becomes harder to build up muscle mass.

Many of my patients have tried dozens of therapies before finding their way to our acupuncture office.

Electroacupuncture for Muscle Rehabilitation

Electro-acupuncture has a unique effect to help individuals who have stubborn injuries and chronic pain. Not only does electro-acupuncture reduce pain and inflammation, but acupuncture also stimulates the growth of muscle tissue.

In a report at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting suggests that electro-acupuncture helps to stimulate muscle tissue regrowth.  The research group showed that acupuncture reversed the decrease in muscle mass in mice and in the mRNA expression level of the E3 ubiquitin ligase atrogin-1.  This important information helps to explain why many people finding that acupuncture can help regain the ability to do the things they love and live without pain.

The Acupuncture and Muscle Twitch

The muscle which is stimulated from the acupuncture will twitch. To your acupuncturist, this feels like the muscle grabs the needle. Traditionally, acupuncture doctors described this much like a fish grabbing a hook because we will feel a little pulling on the needle.

Scientists have been studying this remarkable phenomenon of the needle grab and muscle twitch. The theory is that the needle grab is the connective tissue surrounding muscles latches onto the needle and stretches itself out. Some theories suggest this stretching is that the cells are preparing to repair tissue and create the signals throughout the body.

I think that the needle grab and manipulation of the connective tissue gives the body a scaffolding for the repair of the local muscles.

A success story from the acupuncture clinic

It is quite common for patients to come to the acupuncture clinic with chronic injuries and pain that are not improving.  These patients are very diligent in seeking help yet their muscle weakness and pain are stubborn.

One such patient who is in her 60’s who had an injury from falling.  After her injury it was very difficult to regain muscle strength and decrease her pain despite physical therapy.  She had weakness in her arm and was unable to lift her it.

I recommended that in addition to the acupuncture she continue with physical therapy.  We used electroacupuncture treatment on acupuncture points on and surrounding her shoulder including LI 15, SI 9, SI 10, UB 11, Ub 13, Ub 17, and GB 21.  Tui na was also included.  Within two weeks her muscle strength improved almost 50%.  After two months of treatment she had very little pain and her muscle strength almost completely returned.  She felt it was a miracle she could return to doing the activities she loved like cooking and gardening.

Acupuncture is amazing.  There is more and more science exploring the mechanisms of this ancient traditional medicine.

 

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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