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Houston Acupuncture Services For Acupuncture for Musculoskeletal Health
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Some of the most prevalent types of pain in the world involve the musculoskeletal system. The pain may be acute, like an ankle sprain, or it may be chronic, like arthritis. Whatever the source or nature of the condition, acupuncture can deliver pain-relieving results.

The effects of acupuncture have been studied in hundreds of conditions. Much more research is needed to fully encapsulate acupuncture’s benefits, but current studies indicate that treatment is particularly effective for musculoskeletal pain and conditions.

Here, we’ll address the musculoskeletal conditions acupuncture is well-suited to treat, as well as the evidence for treatment.

Acupuncture and Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are characterized by acute pain, inflammation, reduced flexibility, and reduced range of movement. Examples include muscle and joint sprains and strains, tendonitis, tennis elbow, and frozen shoulder, among others. These injuries may linger for months, interfering with athletic performance and, potentially, with everyday tasks.

Acupuncture has demonstrated efficacy with a wide range of mundane sports injuries, improving pain and flexibility in patients. A 2017 study published by the Penn State College of Medicine concluded that acupuncture improved pain symptoms in people experiencing back, knee, neck, and shoulder pain. Further, the researchers concluded that acupuncture could also help with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and help athletes recover faster after a workout.

Many other studies have made the same conclusions, and the evidence for acupuncture in musculoskeletal pain is impressive enough that top health organizations – including the National Institute of Health and American College of Physicians – recommend it as a frontline option.

Acupuncture and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by median nerve compression in the hand and is characterized by pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and fingers. CTS is usually the result of repetitive stresses on the hand, such as those caused by office and computer work.

Acupuncture is an effective treatment option for mild to moderate cases of CTS, according to the available medical literature. A 2020 study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine considered 60 patients with CTS and found that after four weeks of acupuncture treatments, patients noted reduced pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. A systemic review in 2021 published in the Journal of Pharmacopuncture echoed these results. Another study, this one published in a 2017 issue of Brain also noted improved symptoms and, interestingly, improved nerve activity in the area near the wrist.

Acupuncture’s ability to modulate pain signaling activity and encourage the release of anti-inflammatory compounds are explanations for acupuncture’s efficacy in CTS.

Acupuncture and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition characterized by joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness. Symptoms associated with RA may come and go, with the condition producing “flare-ups” during which symptoms are more intense. Likewise, RA symptoms may temporarily recede, often during treatment.

More high-quality research is needed, but acupuncture is an emerging option for RA patients. One promising meta-analysis, published in a 2018 edition of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, considered 43 studies published between 1974 and 2018. After reviewing the studies’ results, the research team concluded that acupuncture could improve the symptoms of RA and quality of life, as a result.

The researchers cited several reasons why acupuncture might display this efficacy. Its ability to regulate the immune system was one given explanation. Others included acupuncture’s antioxidative and anti-inflammatory benefits. These effects are typically attributed to acupuncture’s effects on local and systemic nerve signaling. In other words, acupuncture seems to stimulate the body’s own self-healing mechanisms and encourage it to quickly establish homeostasis.

Acupuncture and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, sometimes life-long condition that’s characterized by muscle pain and tenderness, fatigue, memory issues, and sleep disturbances. The prevalence rate is around four percent among U.S. adults, though women are more likely to develop the condition. In some people, fibromyalgia can be debilitating and greatly impact quality of life. However, it’s a challenging musculoskeletal condition to treat given its systemic nature.

Fibromyalgia’s systemic presentation, though, means acupuncture is well-designed to treat the condition. A pair of meta-analyses, published in 2019 (Journal of Pain Research) and 2021 (Orthopedic Reviews) both concluded that several weeks of acupuncture treatment improved symptoms across the board, including pain relief, reduced fatigue, and improved sleep quality.

Several mechanisms are believed to be at work in patients with fibromyalgia. In addition to releasing endorphins and other pain-relieving biocompounds in response to stimulation, acupuncture may also improve fibromyalgia patient outcomes through better hormone regulation. Acupuncture is used in several conditions (endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, etc.) where hormone dysregulation plays a part. Some researchers believe that hormone dysregulation is a risk factor for fibromyalgia, given its increased prevalence in women. Acupuncture may help correct the hormone-related disease mechanisms and improve symptoms as a result.

Houston Acupuncture Can Provide Relief for Musculoskeletal Pain

Whether acute or chronic, musculoskeletal pain is difficult to live with. It’s also difficult to treat, as pain and anti-inflammatory medications may produce unwanted, significant side effects.

For patients who need more relief than pain medication can provide (or patients that don’t want to deal with drug-induced side effects), acupuncture can be an effective support therapy. If administered by a licensed, experienced acupuncturist, treatment is well-tolerated by most patients.