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Category Archives: Musculoskeletal Conditions
Musculoskeletal conditions encompass a very wide array of problems, but for simplicity I shall exclude under this category, both injuries and arthritis; for help with them, please look under their specific headings on my website. Under the musculoskeletal heading, I am going to give you an introduction to how acupuncture approaches conditions as diverse as frozen shoulder, stiff neck, tight shoulders, trapped nerves, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee pain, foot pain, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.
In our first consultation, I need to establish when the problem began, whether you feel it was triggered by a particular event, or whether it has crept on gradually. Then there are some other things for you to think about. Do you feel pain all of the time, or only on certain movements? Is your range of movement restricted, and if so, how eg. a frozen shoulder might be preventing you from reaching into a back pocket or brushing your hair? Is the pain sharp or shooting, or does it feel more dull and heavy? Have you found it responds to movement, rest or warmth? Does the pain spread some distance from where you feel the focus of the problem lies eg. pain which radiates from your shoulder to your elbow or beyond?
Next I will gather information on your health and wellbeing more generally, and note any other medical conditions which you have, or have had, in the past. We will move on to a thorough physical examination of the affected area and its surroundings, including assessing your range of movement and checking for tender areas. I can then give you your first treatment, aimed not only at helping the problem directly, but also at assisting with any subtle underlying imbalances which may have been perpetuating it: even stress may be one such factor.
My treatments for musculoskeletal problems are likely to involve a combination of massage and acupuncture, with exercises for you to perform at home. Generally, the longer a condition has persisted, or the more severe it is, the more treatment will be required. Some change is usually experienced after four or five treatments, but fairly recent problems treated early, can respond more quickly. I will usually suggest an initial number of sessions, after which we will review progress.
Do not worry if I have not listed your specific musculoskeletal problem (there exist a great many), or if you have not to date had a clear diagnosis. You are always welcome to telephone to discuss it.
An international team has shown that acupuncture helps tennis elbow, and can improve both pain and function. A total of 96 patients, aged 18 to 80, with chronic unilateral tennis elbow, were randomised to receive either true acupuncture or a sham laser treatment as a control. Both groups received three sessions per week for three weeks, at centres in Italy, Australia, Hong Kong and China.
At post-treatment follow-up, the researchers found significant differences in disability and pain scores between the two groups, in favour of true acupuncture. At all time points measured, the acupuncture group contained a greater number of subjects reporting pain relief in excess of 30%.
(A multi-center international study of Acupuncture for lateral elbow pain – Results of a randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Pain, 17 April 2020.)
Italian researchers have shown that a course of acupuncture for severe fibromyalgia, is effective for treating multiple mental and physical symptoms. In the study, 102 patients with chronic, treatment-resistant fibromyalgia, and attending as out-patients of a rheumatology clinic in Ancona, received eight acupuncture sessions on a weekly basis. All participants were allowed to continue drug therapy.
After the eight weeks, patients experienced significant improvements in all evaluated parameters, including fibromyalgia impact, neuropathic pain, pain catastrophising and global health. The researchers say that for the first time, acupuncture has been shown to be effective against disease features such as pain catastrophizing and neuropathic pain. Earlier intervention with multimodal strategies, including acupuncture, could be of great benefit to patients.
(Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia: An Open-Label Pragmatic Study on Effects on Disease Severity, Neuropathic Pain Features, and Pain Catastrophizing. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 25 February 2020.)
Spanish researchers have found that acupuncture helps fibromyalgia, specifically balance and posture in female patients. A total of 135 participants were randomised by a team at the University of Extremadura to one of three groups: a core stability physiotherapy group; an acupuncture treatment group; a no-treatment control group. Treatment groups received two sessions per week, for a total of 10 sessions.
As measured by balance, time taken to stand up, and 10 metre walking speed, both the acupuncture and physiotherapy groups showed statistically significant improvements compared with the control group. There were no significant differences between acupuncture and physiotherapy.
(Effectiveness of acupuncture vs. core stability training in balance and functional capacity of women with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation Journal, 23 March 2020.)
A study by the US military shows ear acupuncture can significantly reduce pain after shoulder surgery. Prior to surgery, 40 military veterans aged 17 to 55, were randomised to receive either standard care (physiotherapy) or standard care plus ear acupuncture. Between baseline and seven days, the acupuncture group exhibited significantly greater reductions in pain scores, even though analgesic use was similar across both groups.
(Battlefield Acupuncture and Physical Therapy Versus Physical Therapy Alone After Shoulder Surgery. Medical Acupuncture, 19 August 2019.)