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How to Treat Shin Splints With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. and Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

Shin pain and swelling, shin splints
Shin pain and swelling can be a sign of shin splints.

Shin pain, especially during or after exercise? Tenderness and swelling around the shin bone? These may be signs of shin splints, or a shin strain. Acupuncture and TCM can provide shin splints treatment. 

Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), are a common condition characterized by pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia). This discomfort typically occurs during or after exercise, particularly activities that involve running, jumping, or repetitive stress on the legs. 

Shin splints are often attributed to overuse or excessive strain on the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue of the lower leg. This condition involves stress to the soft tissues that causes them to become swollen and hard.

Shin splints pain can be similar to compartment syndrome symptoms, but these are two distinctly different conditions. Compartment syndrome occurs when swelling in the calf area causes a blockage of blood flow to the lower leg. This usually happens due to an injury (acute compartment syndrome) or extreme exertion (chronic exertional compartment syndrome)  and causes a severe lack of oxygen in the area. Compartment syndrome usually causes severe pain, sometimes with a tingling or burning sensation, and requires  medical attention.

 

What Causes Shin Splints?

shin splints sports injury
Repetitive stress from increasing your running routine can cause shin splints.

Several factors can contribute to the development of shin splints. One of the primary causes is repetitive stress or overloading of the leg muscles, particularly those responsible for dorsiflexion (lifting the foot upwards) and supporting the arch of the foot. This can occur due to sudden increases in activity level, such as starting a new exercise regimen or intensifying training too quickly, without allowing adequate time for the body to adapt and recover.

Some people may be more prone to developing shin splints because of issues like flat feet, overpronation (excessive inward rolling of the foot), and muscle imbalances in the lower limbs can place additional strain on the shinbone and surrounding soft tissues, increasing the risk of injury.

Wearing footwear with insufficient cushioning or support, running on hard or uneven surfaces, and running downhill or on inclined terrain can all exacerbate the stress on the lower legs and contribute to the development of shin splints. Additionally, factors such as tight calf muscles, weak shin muscles, and not warming up or stretching before exercise can further increase susceptibility to this condition. 

Taking care to stretch and warm up before working out, wearing shoes with enough support, and gradually increasing intensity of training can help prevent shin splints. 

However, runners and athletes who play basketball or soccer are likely to experience shin splints when they are training and competing. 

Shin splints treatment generally requires time and patience. Acupuncture can provide pain relief and help speed recovery from shin splints.

 

Top 10 Signs and Symptoms of Shin Splints

These signs and symptoms may vary in severity and duration depending on the individual and the underlying causes of shin splints.

  1. Pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia), typically felt during or after physical activity.
  2. Tenderness and soreness along the shinbone, especially upon palpation or pressure.
  3. Swelling or inflammation of the lower leg, often localized to the area of pain.
  4. Dull, aching pain that may worsen with activity and subside with rest.
  5. Discomfort that initially occurs at the beginning of exercise but may progress to persist throughout the activity.
  6. Pain that gradually increases in intensity or becomes more widespread over time.
  7. Pain that may be accompanied by a feeling of tightness or stiffness in the muscles of the lower leg.
  8. Pain that persists even after cessation of activity and may interfere with daily activities.
  9. Possible development of small lumps or bumps along the inner border of the shinbone due to inflammation or irritation of the surrounding tissues.
  10. Pain that improves with rest but recurs upon resuming physical activity, especially activities that involve impact or weight-bearing on the legs.

 

Shin Splints Treatment

proper support and cushioning in shoes shin splints
Proper support and cushioning in shoes can help prevent shin splints.

Conventional treatment of shin splints usually involves rest and over the counter pain relief. Typically, a doctor will recommend that a person with shin splints limits their exercise to low-impact activities. Icing the area several times per day is advised.

Acupuncture treatment for medial tibial stress syndrome can help relieve shin pain quickly.

One case study showed that a patient who had been suffering from shin splints for six weeks got pain relief after one session of acupuncture treatment, and at a four week follow, was still pain-free.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Shin Splints?

Acupuncture treatment helps with the healing of soft tissue injuries by increasing circulation to the area, relieving inflammation, and aiding in the release of endorphins for pain relief. It does this by activating Qi to move blood and energy more efficiently through the body.

One study of three groups of athletes with shin splints looked at patients who received conventional sports medicine, patients who received acupuncture, and patients who received both. The groups who received acupuncture treatment reported significantly lower pain levels and used less NSAIDs than those who did not receive acupuncture.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Shin Splints in West Los Angeles

Acupuncture is an effective modality for treating many kinds of repetitive stress injuries and nerve pain conditions, including sprained ankles, Baker’s cyst, tendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Tan has over 35 years of experience helping patients find pain relief and improved mobility through treating all kinds of orthopedic and musculoskeletal conditions. While each case is unique, it is possible to get pain relief quickly with TCM treatment, including acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, therapeutic massage like Tui Na, topical herbal patches, and herbal ointments. If you are in pain and need to heal quickly to get back to your regular activities, acupuncture can help.





*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.



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How to Treat Myofascial Pain Syndrome With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D. and Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

myofascial pain disease
Muscle tightness and tenderness can be a sign of myofascial pain syndrome.

Muscle aches and pains? Knotted muscles? Pain in trigger points? These could be signs of myofascial pain syndrome. Acupuncture and TCM can provide myofascial release and help relieve chronic myofascial pain (MPS pain).

Myofascial pain disorder is a common, yet often overlooked chronic pain condition that affects the muscles and fascia. Fascia is the thin connective tissue that is found all over the body, holding muscles, organs, and blood vessels together. Fascia is also filled with nerves, which makes it highly sensitive.

Healthy fascia is thin, stretchy and pliable. Stress, injuries, weakness and other issues can cause fascia to tighten up, become sticky, dry, or thicker. This can cause painful knots to develop in your muscles.

These areas are sometimes called fascial adhesions, or myofascial trigger points, and they can be very tender to the touch and cause muscle soreness, aches and pains. 

Chronic myofascial pain can seem very similar to fibromyalgia, or symptoms of ME/CFS, and is sometimes misdiagnosed as such. However, these conditions are distinct from one another. 

Fibromyalgia causes widespread, diffuse pain and tenderness all over the body, while myofascial pain is centered around specific trigger point sites. Fibro, as it is sometimes called, is believed to be caused by a disorder within the central nervous system. Fibromyalgia is usually triggered by stress, trauma, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, or sensitivities to weather changes.

It has been suggested that long-term myofascial pain syndrome may ultimately lead to a person developing fibromyalgia, as the brain and nervous system become so used to experiencing pain that they begin to produce disordered pain signaling.

Acupuncture treatment, cupping, and therapeutic Chinese massage can provide trigger point therapy that is effective for relieving tight muscles and soreness.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome Symptoms

myofascial pain syndrome trigger points
Myofascial pain can be localized or refer to other areas.

People experience myofascial pain differently from one another; each case is unique. For some people, the pain can come and go suddenly; for others, it’s a constant, dull pain.

Myofascial pain syndrome can feel like:

 

  1. Tight muscles, stiffness
  2. Throbbing pain
  3. Dull, aching pain
  4. Sore muscles, tender areas
  5. Knotted muscles, nodules or bumps in specific areas that are sore
  6. Muscle weakness
  7. Limited range of motion
  8. Trouble sleeping
  9. Headaches
  10. Fatigue

Myofascial pain can be localized in one area, or referred pain, which spreads to other nearby areas. Myofascial referred pain patterns can look like pain that originates in the rotator cuff which then spreads to the deltoid, and even down the arm to the hand.

What Causes Myofascial Pain?

 

Medical science is not entirely clear on the causes of myofascial pain syndrome, but it seems to occur more often in people who have experienced things like:

 

  • Periods of inactivity, such as having one of your limbs in a cast
  • Repetitive movements in your work
  • Pinched nerves
  • Injury to a muscle or muscle group
  • Having to work outdoors in the cold
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Thyroid disorders, hypothyroidism
  • Deficiencies in Vitamin D or folate, or iron deficiency
  • Stress, chronic tension that leads to clenched muscles
  • Structural conditions like scoliosis, spondylosis, or osteoarthritis

Estimates suggest that the majority of people who are treated for chronic musculoskeletal pain may have myofascial pain syndrome. Up to 85% of the general population may experience myofascial pain at some point in time.

 

Treatment for Myofascial Pain Syndrome

One of the primary approaches to managing myofascial pain syndrome is physical therapy. Physical therapists may use manual therapy, stretching exercises, and postural correction to address muscle imbalances, improve flexibility, and release tension in affected muscles. Trigger point therapy, which involves applying pressure to trigger points to release muscle knots and promote relaxation, is a common component of physical therapy for MPS.

Modalities such as heat therapy and cold therapy may also be used in conjunction with physical therapy to provide pain relief and enhance the effectiveness of treatment. Heat therapy helps to increase blood flow and promote muscle relaxation, while cold therapy can reduce inflammation and numb the affected area. 

In addition to physical therapy and modalities, medications may be prescribed to manage pain and improve symptoms associated with myofascial pain syndrome. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be recommended to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine or benzodiazepines may also be prescribed to help relax tense muscles and improve sleep quality. In some cases, tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsant medications may be used to modulate pain signals and improve overall pain management.

Trigger point injections are another treatment option for myofascial pain syndrome, particularly for individuals who experience severe or persistent symptoms that do not respond adequately to conservative measures. During a trigger point injection procedure, a local anesthetic or corticosteroid is injected directly into the trigger point to help alleviate pain and reduce muscle tension.

Acupuncture needling is also considered an effective and valuable treatment option for myofascial release and relief of musculoskeletal pain.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Myofascial Pain Syndrome?

myofascial pain syndrome acupuncture
The acupoints used in acupuncture correspond with myofascial trigger point.

Many studies conducted over the past two decades point to acupuncture as an effective mode of treatment for myofascial pain syndrome.

Acupuncture is effective for myofascial pain because it can positively affect the central nervous system, increase blood flow, increase endorphin production, improve fascial adhesions, and promote muscle relaxation. Acupoints used in TCM correspond closely with myofascial trigger points.

One study looked at patients who received two acupuncture treatments per week for four weeks on trigger points in the upper trapezius. Patients reported significant reduction in pain after just two weeks.

Another study followed two groups of patients with myofascial pain centered in the neck area. One group received acupuncture treatment. The other group had acupuncture and also engaged in regular aerobic exercise. Findings showed that both groups experienced significant improvement in pain symptoms.

A review of studies found that acupuncture was effective both for reducing myofascial pain and improving function and mobility.

Acupuncturists may also use electro-acupuncture, cupping, and massage techniques like gua sha and tui na to help move lymph and blood, release muscle trigger points, and improve muscular movement that has been limited by pain.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for Myofascial Pain Syndrome in Los Angeles

At Art of Wellness Acupuncture in West L.A., we have over 35 years of experience helping people find relief from musculoskeletal pain of all kinds. Dr. Tan and Dr. Cai are able to use electro-acupuncture, cupping, and massage techniques like Tuina for myofascial release. If you are suffering from muscle pain and tenderness, do not hesitate to make an appointment with us.



 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

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How to Treat Costochondritis With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Qineng Tan, L.Ac. Ph.D. and Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

sternum pain, chest pain
Chest pain where the ribs meet the breast bone can be Costochondritis.

Chest pain? Rib pain, sternum pain? These can be costochondritis symptoms, caused by inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum. Acupuncture and TCM can provide costochondritis treatment to relieve pain and inflammation.

Costochondritis is a pain condition caused by inflammation of cartilage in the rib cage. It can be scary, because the pain can feel like a heart attack or a symptom of heart disease. 

It is quite common for people who are experiencing costochondritis pain to visit the emergency room complaining of chest pain. Almost 10% of ER visits are related to chest pain symptoms, and a significant number of those turn out to be related to something other than heart problems.

Sometimes called “chest wall pain syndrome,” or costosternal syndrome, costochondritis is considered a syndrome because it presents as a set of symptoms that often does not have a clear cause.

Possible causes of costochondritis include:

  • Trauma or injury to the chest or ribs
  • Persistent cough
  • Repeated bouts of vomiting
  • Chest or lung infection
  • Allergies that affect the lungs
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Tietze syndrome

Suddenly doing some kind of heavy labor or intense workout that you’re not used to, that causes you to be winded, could cause inflammation of the chest. Playing contact sports in which you may be tackled or collide with another player or get hit hard with a ball in the chest could also cause costochondritis.

Tietze syndrome is a rare condition in which the cartilage connecting the ribs to the breastbone becomes inflamed and swollen. With Tietze syndrome, the pain and swelling in the chest is usually higher up, around the second and third ribs.

Costochondritis pain usually is felt more on the left side of the chest, radiating outward, and there isn’t any swelling involved. 

Rib pain may be exacerbated when lying down, which can make it difficult to sleep comfortably.

Costochondritis is most commonly experienced by people in middle age (40-50s), but it can occur in children and adolescents, as well as adults.

In most cases, costochondritis is temporary. However, costochondritis pain can limit your activities and be debilitating for weeks, or even months. One study showed that up to a third of adults reported pain persisting beyond a year.

Acupuncture has been shown to help alleviate costochondritis pain, often in a matter of weeks.

Costochondritis Symptoms

Costochondritis pain can range anywhere from a slight tenderness to severe chest pain. In mild cases, the pain may go away in a matter of days, but in other cases, the pain can become serious.

Symptoms of costochondritis include:

  1. Sharp chest pain
  2. Chest pressure, chest ache, tenderness in breastbone
  3. Pain on the left side of chest, to the left of the breastbone
  4. Rib pain in more than one rib
  5. Pain radiating to shoulders and/or arms
  6. Chest pain when coughing, sneezing, or taking a deep breath
  7. Pain in chest when reaching up or twisting the torso
  8. Rib pain when lying down
  9. Pain when hugging someone
  10. Pain when putting on a seatbelt

 

Medical Diagnosis and Costochondritis Treatment

chest pain, rib pain, Costochondritis
Pain near the sternum can be Costochondritis.

Other than the doctor palpating the area around your breastbone and ribs, there is no specific test to determine if you have costochondritis.

Chest pain can be an indicator of a variety of health conditions, including heart problems or lung problems, so it is always important to get it checked out with a healthcare professional. They will rule out other problems by ordering an EKG or chest X-ray in order to get to a diagnosis of costochondritis.

Treatment will consist of recommendations for ways to alleviate pain. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or naproxen (Aleve) can help reduce inflammation and pain.

In cases of more severe or persistent pain, a doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications such as prescription-strength Motrin or muscle relaxers.

Applying heat or cold packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Some individuals find relief by alternating between heat and cold therapy.

In cases where pain is severe and not responding to other treatments, corticosteroid injections directly into the affected area may provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation.

Acupuncture treatment is a great way to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, without the side effects that can result from using pain medications or steroids for several weeks or months.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Costochondritis?

Adolescents and children can have costochrondritis.
Costochrondritis can happen during adolescence.

Acupuncture has been used for many centuries to treat pain and inflammation. Now, research is able to show how and why this modality is able to regulate inflammatory responses. Acupuncture affects the nerve signaling that produces hormones like dopamine and can reduce the production of cytokine storms. This is why acupuncture can help relieve inflammation and chest pain of costochondritis.

In TCM theory, pain and inflammation are usually considered to occur because of stagnation, or stasis, of blood and/or Qi (life force energy). The same symptoms can occur in different individuals because of different imbalances in the organs systems that are causing the blockages and different pathogenic factors, such as excess heat, dampness, etc. 

Costochondritis inflammation can occur due to dampness and stagnation of Qi in the liver, spleen, and/or kidney systems. Depending on each patient’s specific situation, your acupuncturist will choose acupoints to open channels, clear dampness, heat, and phlegm. This allows for Qi and blood to flow smoothly again, cooling down the inflammation and relieving pain.

One case study of six women who were treated for costochondritis pain with acupuncture found that all patients reported improvement and were able to discontinue taking OTC pain medications.

One pediatric study looked at young students suffering from costochondritis; they were missing school, limiting their sports, dance, and work, and having trouble sleeping. After 4-6 weeks of acupuncture treatment, these patients reported a significant reduction in pain, and were able to resume their usual activities.

Not only is acupuncture treatment effective for relief of costochondritis pain; it can work quickly. In many cases, patients feel better after one or two treatments.

Acupuncture Near Me for Costochondritis in Los Angeles Area

Dr. Tan and Dr. Cai of Art of Wellness Acupuncture in West L.A. have been helping treat pain conditions for over 35 years. Our office is a home away from home where patients are able to relax and find relief from pain and inflammation. If you or someone you love is experiencing chest pain due to costochondritis, please do not hesitate to come in for a consultation.



*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

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How To Treat Baker’s Cyst With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. and Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

knee pain Baker's cyst
Baker’s cyst may cause pain and swelling in the knee joint.

Swelling behind knee, lump behind knee, pain and swelling behind knee, knee stiffness? These can be Baker’s cyst symptoms. A Baker’s cyst in knee joint occurs when swelling in the knee forms a fluid-filled sac. Acupuncture treatment can help relieve Bakers cyst knee symptoms like knee pain and stiffness.

A Baker cyst, also known as a popliteal cyst, or synovial cyst, is a fluid-filled growth that develops in the back of the knee joint. In some cases, a Baker’s cyst causes knee pain, stiffness, and swelling; in other cases, there may be no Baker’s cyst signs and symptoms at all.

What causes Baker’s cyst? Usually, it is due to a knee injury, such as a cartilage tear, or arthritis in the knee joint. These types of problems cause inflammation in the knee, which can lead to the production of more synovial fluid than usual.

Synovial fluid is a thick, clear substance, similar to egg whites in consistency, that is present in the joints of the body to help lubricate their movements. It is produced by the synovium, a sort of bubble that surrounds joints like the knees, elbows, shoulders, and hips. 

When the synovium becomes swollen and inflamed, due to injury or overuse of the joint, it may produce excess synovial fluid. In the case of a Baker’s cyst, the synovial fluid can build up in the knee joint, and form a bump, lump, or growth in the back of the knee.

People who have a history of knee injury, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis may be more prone to developing Baker’s cysts.

Bakers cyst treatment is usually only indicated if a person is experiencing significant pain or limitation of movement. Acupuncture treatment can provide an adjunct or alternative Baker’s cyst therapy to help promote healing and relieve Baker’s knee symptoms.

 

Top 5 Baker’s Cyst Symptoms

 

baker's cyst knee
Repetitive movements or sports injuries can sometimes lead to Baker’s cyst later on.
Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Many people have a baker’s cyst knee without realizing it. If there is no pain, a person may not notice the lump behind knee. 

 

Baker’s cyst signs and symptoms include:

 

  1. Knee pain, pain in the back of the knee
  2. Knee stiffness, stiff knee joint, especially when straightening the leg
  3. Swollen knee, swelling in knee joint
  4. Swelling goes away when knee is bent
  5. Pain and stiffness are worse after standing for a long time

 

More severe baker’s cyst symptoms could include redness and swelling, as the cyst gets larger. 

In some cases, a baker’s cyst can rupture. If this happens, there may be swelling, redness, and a warm sensation in the calf area. Rupture of a baker’s cyst could cause pain or numbness in the calf, lack of blood flow to the lower leg, as the ruptured cyst could trap a nerve or artery in the knee or lower leg.

In extreme cases, a ruptured Baker’s cyst could lead to compartment syndrome, which could cause intense pain, foot drop, edema in the lower leg, and possibly, even an inability to move the foot or toes. If you believe your Baker’s cyst has ruptured, you should seek emergency care.

While, in most cases, a Baker’s cyst will eventually go on on its own, it is best to get a diagnosis and discuss your options. Acupuncture and TCM offer treatment of Baker’s cysts that is non-invasive and can help improve healing and prevent regrowth of the cyst.

 

Baker’s Cyst Treatment

 

Baker’s cyst signs and symptoms can be similar to those of a blood clot, or even a tumor. So, while a doctor can often diagnose a Baker’s cyst simply by palpating the area, they may also order imaging tests to be sure.

In many cases, doctors will prescribe over the counter pain medications and allow time for the cyst to go away on its own. You may be advised to limit activities that might aggravate the knee inflammation. Resting and elevating the knee for a few weeks might be recommended.

In some cases, a doctor may give cortisone injections to reduce knee swelling, or perform needle aspiration to drain the fluid from the cyst.

Surgery is generally only suggested in situations in which the knee pain has become chronic and inflammation does not seem to be going away.

Unfortunately, these medical treatments for Baker’s cyst may help bring relief, but it is quite common for the Baker’s cyst to come back again. Acupuncture treatment is not only a good way to bring symptomatic relief, but can help prevent the recurrence of Baker’s cysts.

Acupuncture has long been considered an excellent modality for treating knee pain due to all types of conditions. TCM offers an adjunct  or alternative treatment for knee pain, without side effects that can come with pain medications or steroids.

 

Can Acupuncture Help Baker’s Cyst?

 

acupuncture for Baker's cyst knee
Acupuncture treatment for knee pain and swelling.

Acupuncture and TCM treatments with Chinese herb formulas have been used for centuries to treat knee injuries of all kinds. 

According to TCM theory, arthritis in the knee that causes pain and stiffness is caused by stagnation that blocks the smooth flow of blood and Qi (life force energy). Acupuncture and herbs are used to address the underlying causes of blockages.

Injuries like a torn meniscus in the knee, or damage to the cartilage of the knee are very common, and it is also common for a person who has suffered such an injury to develop a Baker’s cyst later on. Full healing of cartilage can be helped with specific herbs that bring more nutrients to the damaged tissues.

Once a pattern of inflammation has begun, it can be difficult to get the swelling to go away. Small movements can trigger the inflammatory response if the area is not fully healed, and if other lifestyle habits are also causing a person to be prone to inflammation.

Chinese medicine looks at the situation holistically, treating the situation with acupuncture treatment, cupping, herbs, and nutrition, so that overall inflammation is reduced, and swelling and pressure is reduced, as well.

Herbal patches that are applied topically may be used in addition to herbal teas taken internally, to help relieve knee pain and swelling.

Cupping can also be helpful for healing and prevention of Baker’s cysts. One study compared patients with a popliteal cysts who were treated with acupuncture and cupping to patients who were given injections of prednisone. Both groups had high rates of effectiveness in terms of relief from the cysts, but recurrence of Baker’s cyst was significantly lower in the group that received TCM treatment as opposed to steroids.

Acupuncture Near Me for Baker’s Cyst, Los Angeles, CA

 

If you or someone you know has been suffering from knee pain and stiffness, due to a knee injury, arthritis, or diagnosed with Baker’s cysts on knee, it is worth seeking help from an acupuncturist experienced in working with orthopedic injuries, like Dr. Tan at Art of Wellness in West Los Angeles. TCM treatment for Baker’s cyst and other problems with the knee joint can not only help to relieve pain and increase range of movement; it can help prevent knee pain from coming back in the future. 





*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

 





 

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How to Treat CRPS With Acupuncture and TCM

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By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. and Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

 

CRPS complex regional pain syndrome
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) involves chronic pain, usually in an arm or leg.

Chronic pain, changes in skin temperature, and swelling in a specific limb or body part? Pain, swollen limbs, edema and inflammation after a seemingly minor injury? These could be signs of a condition known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Acupuncture and TCM can help relieve chronic pain due to CRPS.

CRPS is a relatively rare condition that usually causes pain and inflammation in an arm or leg. It most often occurs after someone experiences an injury to a limb, or has surgery on one of their limbs. The painful area may be swollen, turn red and hot sometimes, and blue and cold at other times. 

CRPS is marked by pain that seems disproportionate to the injury or outside stimulus. For example, a person with CRPS may feel severe pain when the affected area is touched lightly, or when a breeze blows. While CRPS is not fully understood by medical science, it is generally considered to be a neurological disorder.

While most cases of CRPS do improve in the long run, there may be a long period of time during which the injured area seems to be getting more inflamed. 

CRPS pain may worsen and spread to involve more of the affected limb. In some cases, the pain may even be “mirrored” in the opposite limb. This is partially why CRPS is theorized to be caused by problems with the nervous system.

Sometimes CRPS manifests without any evidence of nerve damage. This condition is known as CRPS-I, or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome. (RSD or RSDS).

Some cases of CRPS can be associated with proven nerve damage; this is called “causalgia,” or CRPS-II.

Conventional Western medicine approaches primarily focus on managing symptoms with pain medications and physical therapy. In some cases, CRPS pain can be so severe that it causes disability, as the person cannot use their limb normally in daily activities.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture can help address the root causes of CRPS. Acupuncture and TCM offer a holistic approach to relieve pain and enhance overall well-being.

 

Top 5 Symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

CRPS chronic pain
Prolonged pain and inflammation are symptoms of CRPS.

CRPS symptoms can change. A CRPS flare up may last days or weeks, when pain and swelling get worse. Sometimes, the pain may seem to come out of nowhere; other times, it may be triggered by exertion, stress, or other factors.

 

  1. Intense and prolonged pain: Individuals with CRPS experience severe and persistent pain that may seem disproportionate to the initial injury or cause. There may be “pins and needles” or a burning sensation. Light contact with something may cause severe pain; this phenomenon is known as “allodynia.” Or something that would usually cause mild pain, like a pin prick, causes severed pain; this is called “hyperalgesia.”
  2. Changes in skin temperature and color: The affected area may become warmer or cooler compared to the surrounding areas, and skin may appear blotchy, pale, red, or blue or gray.
  3. Swelling and sensitivity: Swelling, edema, and increased sensitivity to touch or even a slight breeze are common symptoms of CRPS.
  4. Limited range of motion: Stiffness, muscle weakness, and difficulty moving the affected limb or body part may occur. There may be tremors or jerky motions of the limb. 
  5. Changes in skin texture, hair and nail growth: Abnormal hair and nail growth patterns, such as excessive hair growth or brittle nails, may develop in the affected area. The skin may become thinner or thicker, or may be shiny or scaly.

CRPS may cause unusually heavy sweating in the affected area, or cause there to be a total absence of sweating in the area.

 

Medical Treatment for CRPS

In the realm of conventional medicine, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is understood as a multifaceted condition that often arises following an injury or trauma to a limb or body part. While the exact cause of CRPS is not fully understood, it is believed to involve abnormal responses of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Nerve damage, inflammation, and changes in blood flow are thought to play a role in the development of CRPS.

Certain risk factors may increase an individual’s susceptibility to the condition, such as a history of fractures, surgery, or repetitive motion injuries. Additionally, psychological factors and genetic predisposition may contribute to the development of CRPS. 

CRPS can be triggered by a variety of factors, including surgery, immobilization, infections, emotional stress and trauma.

Diagnostic testing for CRPS may include a bone scan, x-rays, MRI, and a sweat production test. 

Medications recommended may include pain relievers, corticosteroids to help bring down inflammation, and nerve blocking injections. Low doses of ketamine are sometimes used to help relieve pain. Topical analgesics may help reduce sensitivity in the affected area, as may heat therapy.

Other therapies for CRPS may include biofeedback and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Mirror therapy, in which a person stands or sits in front of a mirror set-up that tricks the brain into thinking it sees the injured limb working the way the healthy limb does, can be helpful for retraining the nervous system.

Acupuncture treatment for CRPS can work on multiple levels to help relieve pain, improve motor function, reduce inflammation, help heal nerves, and reduce stress.

 

Can Acupuncture Help CRPS?

acupuncture chronic pain
Acupuncture can help relieve pain and inflammation.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is understood as a disruption in the flow of Qi (energy) and Blood in the affected area, leading to pain and dysfunction. According to TCM theory, the underlying causes of CRPS are often related to the stagnation of Qi and Blood, as well as the blockage of meridians (energy channels) that run through the affected limb or body part. TCM treatments aim to restore the smooth flow of Qi and Blood, harmonize the body’s internal balance, and alleviate pain.

Acupuncture, a key component of TCM, is believed to stimulate specific acupoints along the meridians, helping to regulate the nervous system’s response and promote healing. Chinese herbal medicine is also commonly used in TCM to support the treatment of CRPS by addressing underlying imbalances and promoting overall well being. By addressing both the physical and energetic aspects of the condition, TCM aims to restore harmony and alleviate pain in individuals with CRPS.

One study looked at two soldiers whose upper extremities were injured in combat and were later diagnosed with CRPS. When conventional methods did not help relieve pain, they were given one or two acupuncture treatments per week for a few weeks. They had 80% improvement in pain and functionality and with no recurrence at a 20-month follow up.

An individual case study of a 34-year-old with CRPS showed improvement in pain and emotional well-being after a series of acupuncture treatments.

When dealing with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), incorporating certain lifestyle changes, behavioral adjustments, dietary modifications, and home remedies can be beneficial in managing the condition. Here are some recommendations:

Stress Management: Practicing stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness can help alleviate CRPS symptoms. Stress management techniques promote relaxation and can positively impact pain perception.

  • Gentle Exercise: Engaging in low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga can help improve blood circulation, maintain joint flexibility, and reduce muscle stiffness. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist to determine the most appropriate exercise program for your specific situation.
  • Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat packs or cold compresses to the affected area may provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation. Experiment with both methods to see which works best for you. Remember to protect your skin and avoid extreme temperatures.
  • Balanced Diet: Maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet is crucial for overall well-being. Include nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive consumption of processed foods, refined sugars, and caffeine, as they may contribute to inflammation and worsen symptoms.
  • Adequate Hydration: Staying hydrated is important for promoting optimal bodily function and supporting overall health. Aim to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and support proper circulation.
  • Stress Reduction: CRPS symptoms can be exacerbated by stress. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation, such as hobbies, listening to soothing music, spending time in nature, or engaging in creative outlets, can help reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being.
  • Sleep Hygiene: Getting sufficient and quality sleep is essential for managing chronic pain conditions. Establish a regular sleep routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, and practice good sleep hygiene habits like avoiding electronic devices before bed.

It’s important to note that these lifestyle changes, behavioral adjustments, dietary modifications, and home remedies should complement your comprehensive treatment plan and be tailored to your individual needs. Consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for personalized guidance and recommendations based on your specific condition and symptoms.

 

Acupuncture Near Me for CRPS in Los Angeles and Santa Monica

At Art of Wellness Acupuncture in West L.A., we have over 35 years of experience treating neurological conditions and chronic pain of all kinds. Acupuncture is a modality that is particularly suited to treating conditions like CRPS, where it may be difficult to find relief through conventional treatment methods. If you are experiencing excessive pain in one of your limbs, with temperature sensitivity and inflammation, it may be worth seeking out alternative treatment with TCM.



 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.









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