What Is Orthopedic Acupuncture?


While athletes are certainly at an increased risk of sustaining a musculoskeletal injury, non-athletes can suffer from strained muscles and ligament tears as well. Any strenuous physical exercise, whether it’s competing in a marathon, or carrying heavy grocery bags up multiple flights of stairs, can lead to musculoskeletal dysfunction. If you’re struggling with knee pain, foot pain, a stiff neck, or any other type of musculoskeletal pain, you may be wondering about orthopedic acupuncture and how it can help you.

Orthopedic acupuncture is a subtype of traditional acupuncture. While traditional acupuncture focuses on stimulating the flow of blood and oxygen, orthopedic acupuncture targets the bones, joints, muscle groups, and ligaments involved in a specific injury to correct imbalances and promote healing

How does orthopedic acupuncture compare to traditional acupuncture?

Traditional acupuncture is ideal for reducing stress and stimulating the body’s natural healing response. This centuries-old practice focuses on improving circulation as well as the flow of oxygen. Because traditional acupuncture treats the body from a holistic perspective, it can be used for a variety of ailments, from neurological issues like migraines to digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Orthopedic acupuncture, on the other hand, is a subtype of traditional acupuncture. Like traditional acupuncture, orthopedic acupuncture can treat a variety of issues. But rather than heal the whole body, orthopedic acupuncture aims to improve muscle function and provide relief from musculoskeletal injuries in particular. 

Similar to sports acupuncture, orthopedic acupuncture combines elements of traditional acupuncture with Western orthopedic medicine. By targeting the specific areas of your body that are in pain, orthopedic acupuncture can provide much-needed relief. 

How does orthopedic acupuncture work?

The goal of orthopedic acupuncture is to identify which muscle groups are involved in your particular musculoskeletal issues and to promote healing by stimulating those muscles to contract and then relax. 

Orthopedic acupuncture makes use of a variety of treatments, including soft tissue mobilization, dry needling, and cupping. Depending on the severity of your musculoskeletal injuries, these methods may suffice. However, electrostimulation can also be helpful, as it gently reactivates underperforming muscles, resulting in an almost instantaneous increase in strength.

Orthopedic acupuncture is highly effective for treating specific ailments, like Achilles tendonitis. But it can also provide relief for generalized pain as well as pain that seems to wander. If you struggle with back pain one day and hip pain the next, a certified orthopedic acupuncturist can help you pinpoint the source of your musculoskeletal dysfunction so it can finally be treated. 

Who needs orthopedic acupuncture?

Pain is an everyday occurrence for many of us, so nearly anyone can benefit from orthopedic acupuncture. But, naturally, it’s especially beneficial for those with musculoskeletal issues. Athletes struggling with golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, or a meniscus tear are ideal candidates for orthopedic acupuncture. This type of acupuncture can be used to treat relatively minor afflictions, like muscle knots and joint sprains, as well. Here are a few of the musculoskeletal conditions that orthopedic acupuncture can help with:

  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve pain and/or pinched nerves
  • Sciatica
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Shin splints
  • Runner’s knee
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries
  • PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) injuries

It’s worth noting that orthopedic acupuncture can be just as effective at treating old injuries as it is at treating new ones. Whether you’re dealing with a newly sprained ankle or an injury that you sustained years ago on the job site, orthopedic acupuncture can provide significant relief, giving you better strength and flexibility. 

What are the benefits of orthopedic acupuncture?

The first and most profound benefit of orthopedic acupuncture is pain relief. Acupuncture releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. These feel-good neurotransmitters make it easier for your body to cope with pain. At the same time, orthopedic acupuncture significantly lowers inflammation, which means it can help reduce your reliance on prescription pain medication. 

Because orthopedic acupuncture gently contracts and relaxes the muscles, this naturally improves flexibility. Regaining the use of your injured muscles allows you to rebuild your strength, enabling you to overcome pain, and that can dramatically improve your physical performance. 

Another benefit of orthopedic acupuncture is that it is non-invasive. There is no downtime in between sessions, so you can get right back to your normal life as soon as you finish your appointment. Orthopedic acupuncture offers amazing benefits with zero negative side effects, making it a worthwhile natural solution for your pain in addition to, and sometimes in place of, conventional treatment plans.

What should you expect during your initial orthopedic acupuncture session?

During your initial orthopedic acupuncture session, your acupuncturist will first assess your strength, range of motion, and level of pain. This will help them pinpoint the source of your musculoskeletal dysfunction, and determine which treatment strategy will work best for you. Be sure to wear loose-fitting activewear to your appointment so you can flex and stretch comfortably during the assessment.

Whether your pain is the result of an acute injury or a longstanding issue, your initial orthopedic acupuncture treatment session should provide noticeable relief. Your acupuncturist will help you determine how often you should be treated to maximize your results. Regular sessions will promote a speedy recovery from the injury, and help your body overcome any residual dysfunction sustained as a result of that injury.

How can you get started with orthopedic acupuncture?

If you’re tired of living with chronic musculoskeletal pain, or if you need some help overcoming a recent musculoskeletal-related injury, Lycoming Orthopedic & Sports Acupuncture is ready to help you take the first step. From your very first visit, our certified acupuncturists will work with you to identify and manage your pain. 

Since acupuncture can be scary if you’re never tried it before, we’re happy to address any concerns you may have. We are committed to ensuring your orthopedic acupuncture experience is as stress-free and pleasant as possible. So don’t hesitate — contact us today and get started on your path to wellness.

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