Injury Related Pain Treatment

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About Arthritis and Joint Pain:

Most people have at one time or another been injured whether it be from sports, or otherwise. Some injuries if not properly healed can cause a lifetime of pain or promote further injuries to surrounding bones, joints, tendons and cartilage. Injuries change as they heal. We divide the course of healing into three stages. The first stage lasts up to a week after the injury. The second stage may last a month. Older injuries are considered third stage injuries. Treatment will vary for each person and circumstance and must be appropriate for each stage. In TCM, the external treatment of injury is governed by clinical manifestation, while internal treatment is governed by particular stages of trauma. Bleeding is a special manifestation of traumatic injury, and is a pattern unto itself. In most injuries where there is bleeding, it must be stopped before further assessment is made. In this sense bleeding can be considered pre-first stage trauma.

Causes:

The major causes of arthritis are heat, cold, dampness, wind dampness, or a combination of two or more of these (internal or external) pathogens. In Chinese Medicine arthritis is called “bi syndrome” or “stagnation and stasis”, which means closure of flow of qi. Acupuncture is used most commonly unless there is dampness involved in which case herbology is combined with acupuncture.

First stage of Trauma

This is the most critical stage for treatment. Immediately after an injury occurs. It is distinguished by the three chief manifestations of pain, heat and swelling. At first stage, treatment must stop bleeding, clear tissue debris, reduce inflammation (heat), relieve pain (vitalize blood), and protect against stagnation. We encourage the flow of energy and fluids (qi and blood) through the injured area. The TCM treatment can employ electro-acupuncture as well as internal and topical herbs to increase flow. If the affected area is red or swollen, points are chosen to drain the excess. We tend to avoid the use of ice, as ice restricts flow at this critical stage. Flow is encouraged to reduce stagnation and swelling. Soaking is discouraged when swelling is present, as it will worsen the swelling. Swellings can be addressed with acupuncture and herbal poultices that disperse damp and vitalize blood and qi. Heat is also not generally applied in the first stages, especially if the injury looks red or feels warm to the touch. Depending on the severity of the injury, Massage and/or physical therapy is appropriate if there is no fracture or bleeding.

Second stage of Trauma

This part of the treatment is usually at least four days after the injury occurred. The body starts to grow more tissues, and starts repairing what was damaged in the first place. In the second stage we continue to promote flow, and begin to strengthen the qi of the tissue. Acupuncture will vitalize blood to promote flow, relieve pressure and loosen stagnations. Herbs used to promote the flow of water and disperse energy at the surface will be added to reduce possible swelling. Massage, painful in the first stage, is much more useful here to aid the movement of energy and fluids.

Third stage of Trauma

The third stage is Chronic Stage. The area that sustained injury is now well into healing. the site of the injury will be weak due to long-term insufficient nourishment. At this stage, acupuncture is both supplementing and vitalizing, moxabustion (heat) treatments are most helpful as they supply the missing qi in the form of heat energy. Massage and strengthening herbs are used internally and externally as well. This stage of healing may last for months, and even years in extreme injuries. Acupuncture excels in the treatment of sports, work, auto accident rehabilitation, and post operative pain.

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Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Treatment for injury:

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, trauma disrupts energetic homeostasis and can cause both short and long term imbalances. Pain and dysfunction result from a blockage of energy (qi) and blood flow. TCM therapies function to remove these blockages. From a western perspective, TCM therapies decrease pain, decrease inflammation, promote healing and regulate the immune and endocrine systems. Acupuncture can be used to help reduce inflammation, decrease swelling and pain, relieve tension, spasms and inflammation, address underlying cause of imbalance, increase range of motion and help promote healing. Its can be used during any of the phases of injury. The focus is not only to treat the injury but also to treat any underlying conditions that may predispose an individual to injuries. This is especially important when treating chronic or recurrent injuries that interfere with life activities.