Rebound Physical Therapy Acupuncturist, Colby Hartsell, LAc discusses the treatment behind treating inflammation and muscle guarding; both common sources of discomfort and symptoms of injury to the joints, tendons or muscles.
When there is injury either to joints, tendons, muscles or bones, the body responds with inflammation and muscle guarding. Soft tissue at the site of injury and above and below the site often becomes hypertonic (or tight). This in conjunction with swelling begins to cause what is referred to in Oriental medicine as “stagnation.” Stagnation is a state of restricted blood and Qi flow which diminishes the availability of nutrients circulating to muscle cells, causes the buildup of toxic cellular metabolites, and results in pain. Furthermore, chronic stagnation and muscle toxicity eventually leads to muscular weakness – referred to in Oriental medicine as “deficiency.” Acupuncture targets areas of stagnation and restores muscular health through direct needling at motor and trigger points of the muscle belly and muscle-tendon junctions. Ultra fine, sterile needles are inserted into areas of stagnation to increase blood flow and flush metabolic toxins. Additionally, corresponding points are used at other areas of the body to affect the central nervous system and increase the body’s production of endorphins while decreasing stress hormones such as cortisol. The combined effect of improving circulation, restoring healthy muscular metabolic activity, and affecting neurochemical and endocrine functions results in tissue healing, improved muscle function, and decreased pain.
Additionally, scar tissue can be problematic in musculoskeletal disorders as it causes pain and restricts range of motion. Acupuncture with electro-stimulation is effective at breaking up scar tissue to improve circulation and improve muscle function.