23 Nov Using Acupuncture and Physical Therapy to Heal Muscle Strains
Healing and rehabilitating an injury or chronic pain point can be approached from one of many different directions. In cases of more common sport’s injuries such as strains, the process usually begins with a little RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). But when rest and ice doesn’t complete the job, more sophisticated measures may need to be taken into account.
Muscle strains occur when damage to muscle tissues occur. This happens when a movement overloads the muscle causing a tear or partial tear to occur. Treating a strain requires total resting of the muscle to heal and in severe cases surgery may be required. However, resting the muscle doesn’t mean it needs to lay dormant throughout the healing process, quite the opposite in fact. Strained muscles actually benefit from a therapy program involving light amounts of rehabilitative exercise. Two of the best tools in this process? Acupuncture and Physical Therapy.
Acupuncture in Healing Muscle Strains
Strain injuries, especially repetitive strains, are typically accompanied by specific trigger points that cause the muscle to strain. The goal in these cases is to disengage the myofascial constraints which can be accomplished with the help of acupuncture. Unlike other treatment options, acupuncture can precisely target the muscle and area involved to directly treat the problem, not just the symptoms.
Those new to acupuncture need not worry. Yes, needles are involved. However, these aren’t the types of needles you remember from childhood vaccinations. Acupuncture uses only the slimest needles strategically placed lightly into the skin. An acupuncture treatment begins by identifying the patient’s patterns of holding tension within the muscle that leads to the strain. Needles are then inserted along meridian pathways to trigger the body into reconfiguring its balance. As for sticking the needles, patients report barely even a pinch of pain. In fact, patients report a significant reduction in pain on their strain as well as a sense of relaxation post-treatment.
Physical Therapy in Rehabilitation
While acupuncture is highly beneficial in treating the pain and problems of a muscle strain, it doesn’t solve the issue of rehabilitating the injured muscle. Trying to rehabilitate a strained muscle on your own can be dangerous as too much activity will cause it to tear further making the injury much worse.
When we become injured, we tend to unconsciously favor our injured extremity while putting more wear and tear on its balancing side. This favoring then leads to an imbalance of how we carry our bodies. Physical Therapy is used to correct this imbalance and re-achieve our body’s natural movement. Physical Therapy also helps by:
- Balancing our body’s muscle function, core stability and biomechanics to avoid a reinjury
- Massaging and stretching the affected area to make sure scar tissue doesn’t clump
- Incorporating strength, flexibility, endurance and speed to train the injured muscle at a safe pace
- Assesses damage to ensure no nerve tissue has become trapped in within the scar tissue