Surgery can be a major source of stress for the body, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable. For certain injuries, like complex fractures, torn rotator cuffs, and ACL tears, surgery is often the only treatment option available. If you’re concerned about an upcoming surgical procedure and you want to ensure you have a speedy recovery afterward, acupuncture is a wonderful supportive measure that can help improve your progress post-op. In fact, there are many benefits of acupuncture after surgery that make it well worth considering.
Regular acupuncture sessions following surgery can accelerate the recovery process drastically by reducing inflammation and promoting healthy circulation. Acupuncture can also help ease swelling, prevent scarring, and improve your range of motion.
Acupuncture eases pain after surgery
The number one symptom that patients report after surgery is pain. It’s a natural side effect of the healing process, but it can also make getting comfortable post-op a difficult task. Fortunately, acupuncture can ease surgery-related pain quickly and naturally, helping to reduce your reliance on prescription pain medications.
The main reason why acupuncture is so effective at alleviating pain is that it triggers the release of endorphins. These powerful neurotransmitters cling to the opioid receptors in the brain, changing the way the body interprets pain, and making it much easier to cope with.
Another way that endorphins make it easier for your body to handle pain is by enhancing your mood. Endorphins promote feelings of pleasure and euphoria, like those you experience when eating a favorite meal or when laughing along with your friends. When used as a regular part of your post-op recovery plan, acupuncture can not only raise your body’s pain threshold but can also relieve the anxiety and tension that we unconsciously hold in our bodies when we’re in pain.
Acupuncture reduces inflammation and speeds recovery
One of the primary benefits of acupuncture after surgery is its ability to reduce inflammation. Although surgery is designed to promote healing in the long run, it can cause significant inflammation initially. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medications to help control the inflammation. But becoming overly reliant on these medications can be damaging to the body, particularly the liver.
Acupuncture helps reduce inflammation naturally. By increasing circulation to the injury site, acupuncture helps the body clear away inflammatory byproducts, like cytokines, allowing you to recover from your procedure more quickly.
Many surgery patients who undergo acupuncture sessions post-op are surprised to find relief from chronic back pain, hip pain, knee pain, and neck pain, as well as the pain associated with their surgery. So, whether you’re looking to heal a new injury, or an old one, acupuncture can help ease your discomfort.
Acupuncture enhances the effects of physical therapy
Acupuncture is no substitute for a well-thought-out post-operative physical therapy regimen. If you’ve had surgery to treat golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, or a similar musculoskeletal injury, physical therapy is essential for improving your range of motion and preventing muscle scarring after your surgery.
Although you shouldn’t look to acupuncture to replace your physical therapy sessions, it can help you make great strides in your recovery. One of the reasons why acupuncture is so popular in sports medicine is because it helps improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion. So adding acupuncture to your surgery recovery strategy is a no-brainer.
Additionally, because acupuncture reduces pain, inflammation, and swelling, it makes it much easier to use your muscles during your physical therapy sessions. Being able to use your muscles efficiently prevents atrophy during the post-op phase of your recovery, which, in turn, allows you to regain your strength much more quickly.
Acupuncture reduces scarring and swelling
Our bodies sustain a certain amount of trauma during surgery because it is invasive by nature. So it’s not uncommon to experience swelling and scarring post-op. But the damaging side effects of surgery can be mitigated with the help of acupuncture.
As sterile needles are inserted during an acupuncture session, your body increases blood flow to the needle site. This upsurge in circulation pulls fluids and inflammatory byproducts away from the injured tissues and floods the area with oxygen and beneficial nutrients necessary to promote healing.
Acupuncture can help alleviate swelling and the discomfort that comes with it. But it doesn’t stop there. Acupuncture can also help fight scarring. One of the major benefits of acupuncture after surgery is its ability to stimulate the formation of collagen. Improving your skin’s elasticity helps reduce scarring in the months after your surgical procedure.
Acupuncture promotes restful sleep
One side effect of surgery that doesn’t get talked about much is that it can alter your sleep cycle. The anxiety that comes with planning for a major medical procedure, coupled with the anesthesia and many other drugs used during surgery, can lead to insomnia. And not being able to sleep when you’re supposed to be resting and recovering can be stressful, to say the least.
But acupuncture is incredibly soothing. As the needles are inserted, they trigger a release of tension, leading to a natural calm. Acupuncture promotes relaxation by lowering stress hormones like cortisol, and this can make it much easier for you to sleep, even after your surgery.
In addition to promoting restful sleep, acupuncture helps surgery patients regain their energy and restore balance. When you feel better mentally, and when you can get the high-quality rest you need, your body will enjoy a much smoother road to recovery. That’s just another one of the many benefits of getting acupuncture after surgery.
Who is a candidate for acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a non-invasive holistic treatment method that has the potential to benefit anyone, regardless of age or activity level. Because there are no negative side effects, acupuncture is a safe addition to any pain management strategy. It’s an ideal supportive measure, along with physical therapy and dietary and lifestyle changes.
To learn more about the amazing healing powers of acupuncture and how this treatment method can speed your recovery after an operation, contact our offices today. At Lycoming Orthopedic & Sports Acupuncture, our professionally trained specialists can help you create a holistic treatment plan that will allow you to meet all of your wellness goals.