Pain Following Accident, Injury or Surgery

Little GirlWhether you have recent pain from improper lifting or an old football injury to your leg from twenty years ago, acupuncture may alleviate all or much of the pain. Acupuncture has been used extensively for all types of pain relief.  Stimulation to acupuncture points results in the body releasing the natural painkillers, called endorphins, to the site. Not only does acupuncture lead to a reduction in pain, but also improves circulation and healing.

Why is it important to treat the injury rather than allow it to heal naturally?  Quite often the body does heal itself very well. Other times, the damage to the tissue leads to obstruction of the normal circulation. The body may seem to heal, but months or years later the old injury starts to ache, and arthritis may start to set in. In addition, if there is pain over a long period of time, an individual may compensate by standing or sitting in an awkward position. Eventually, this can affect the alignment of the spine, leading to backache.

Pain sensations generate emotional reactions. Anger, frustration, fear, and sadness can heighten the feeling of pain. Over time these feelings can intensify, resulting in depression and anxiety.

Pain MedicationOver-the-counter pain medications may help alleviate pain, but can have side effects. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, headache,  rash, and drowsiness. More serious side effects include kidney failure, liver failure, allergic reactions, ulcers and prolonged bleeding after an injury or surgery. Many prescription pain killers can become addictive and are associated with intense withdrawal symptoms if taken over an extensive period of time.  Reports indicate up to 20% of patients are at risk for drug abuse when exposed to opioids such as oxycodone, codeine, and morphine. Acupuncture, if done properly, has only a few potential side effects–occasional bruising or soreness around the area of the needle.

x-ray Some types of acute and chronic pain from accident or injury which may be relieved by acupuncture include: back pain, muscle spasm, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, sprain, strains, bruising, whiplash, foot pain, and knee pain.

Pain following surgery:

Many patients find they have much pain several months after surgery. The individual may feel the surgery was not effective or was unsuccessful when, in fact, the healing process itself is now causing the pain. Often this pain is due to non-visible scar tissue adhering and pulling under the visible scar. This type of pain is common after back surgery, but may occur after almost any surgery. When forming, scar tissue is very sticky and tends to form adhesions which can become painful months or years later. Acupuncture is used to break up the adhesions beneath the scar by promoting additional healing to the area - even years after the injury.

Your treatment at Desert Sands may include:

Acupuncture- thin, sterile needles are used on areas near the site of injury as well as other areas on the body. The needles signal the body to release its own natural endorphins and other pain relievers. Additionally, circulation to the injured area is improved, which facilitates healing.

Electroacupuncture- incorporates an instrument powered by a 9V battery. Tiny clips are attached to the acupuncture needles. It may be felt as a tingling or tapping at the area around the needle. This technique is especially effective in reducing pain, particularly in older injuries.

Scalp Acupuncture- a specialized type of acupuncture in which special, tiny needles are inserted into the shallow area of the exterior scalp. This technique is accompanied by movement of the affected joint and often results in very rapid relief of pain. The scalp needles, unlike the traditional acupuncture needles used in this clinic, may be left in place for up to 72 hours for continued pain relief.

Exercise Exercise may be suggested. Older injuries may need strengthening exercises or exercise to improve circulation and increase range of motion. More recent injuries may require only gentle exercise to maintain range of motion. Still other injuries, such as broken bones, may need rest.  In general, movement and exercise have been found to improve functional abilities and to lower reported levels of pain.

Chinese Herbs- Chinese herbs are a very important aspect of treatment.  Herbs may help move painful obstructions, reduce pain, and promote healing.  Often external herbal plasters or liniments are recommended for certain injuries.

Moxibustion- a special herb, artemesia, when burned above the skin around the injured area, releases a penetrating form of heat, which is beneficial in warming, increasing circulation, and relieving pain in older injuries.

If Pain following an accident, injury or surgery is a concern of yours, alternative medicine at Desert Sands may benefit you. Working as a team, we can form a treatment plan that best meets your health needs. To begin your return to a healthier lifestyle, you may contact me at (520) 780-1230.

Jill Darban, L.Ac., Dipl.OM, MT, SH
Desert Sands Acupuncture- Tucson, AZ