Any acute traumatic injury or repetitive-use injury involving the joints or soft tissues of the body can be considered a sports injury. Sports injuries typically occur during physical activities for a variety of reasons, including overexertion, improper form, lack of appropriate support equipment or inappropriate footwear. Most sports injuries I encounter in my practice are due to a highly motivated person pushing his or her body beyond its threshold of performance. The “no pain, no gain” maxim should be revised: Got pain? No gain!
Lets take a closer look at the two general types of sports injuries:
Acute Traumatic Injury
Medicalese translation: Acute: sharp or severe in effect; intense; immediate.
Trauma: sudden physical injury.
Acute injuries, such as a sprained ankle, strained back, or fractured hand, occur suddenly during activity. Signs of an acute injury include the following:
• sudden, severe pain
• inability to place weight on a lower limb
• extreme tenderness in an upper limb
• inability to move a joint through its full range of motion
• extreme limb weakness
• visible dislocation or break of a bone
Sprain and strain of the joint and surrounding tissues are one of the most common acute traumatic injuries (sprain involves the ligament and strain involves the muscle or tendon). Besides pain, the typical inflammatory response may include swelling, redness or purple skin discoloration, and reduced range of motion. In addition to the conventional R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) treatment, many athletes have found acupuncture treatment to be very helpful in quickly suppressing inflammation and swelling.
Overuse Chronic Injury
Medicalese translation: Chronic: constant; continuing a long time or recurring
Chronic injuries are those that occur over a period of time. Chronic injuries are usually the result of repetitive training, such as running, overhand throwing, or too much tennis. The most common repetitive injury I encounter in practice is the acute injury that has become chronic due to the athlete pushing through the pain. Athletes frequently report weakness at the injury site and describe the pain as deep and dull aching in nature. There may also be sensations of pins and needles, tingling and numbness that accompanies the injury or referred sensations that travel away from the injury site. Athletes may have difficulty in locating the pain but can often reproduce the pain with particular movements.
Acupuncture and cupping for sports injuries:
Acupuncture is extremely successful in treating all types of sports injuries. Many professional sports teams have acupuncturists on staff to decrease healing times and resolve chronic pain. The use of acupuncture to treat acute injuries from intense or repetitive physical activity began centuries ago. It was, and still is, one of the primary means of quick healing for the martial arts. Pain is one of the most common complaints in sports injuries followed by reduced function. Acupuncture works by increasing circulation, stimulating the body’s own innate healing response, and nourishing the tissues of the affected area. This gives the body the support it needs to heal efficiently and quickly. Acupuncture can also improve performance and give athletes a competitive edge.
Cupping is a technique used in conjunction with acupuncture. Cupping pulls blood to a region to stimulate healing. It is effective in stretching tight fascia and muscles. Cupping helps the tissue develop new blood flow and promotes the production of natural anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body. Cupping is generally painless and many patients liken it to the feeling of deep tissue massage.
Sports injuries are common for people of all ages. Today, with the proliferation of fitness programs like CrossFit and Bootcamp style workouts, I am seeing an increase in injuries. This post is not to discourage high-intensity fitness routines or any other physical activity. Get your body moving and keep it moving! Just remember that pain is to warn you of an impending injury or one that has already occurred. Your nervous system is attempting to make you uncomfortable so you will stop and address the injury. As always, listen to your body and take care of yourself. Moderation is always key.