Acupuncture is increasingly used by professional sports teams and athletes to treat musculoskeletal problems in order to decrease healing times and resolve stubborn ailments. Acupuncture is often used in conjunction with other therapies such as physiotherapy and osteopathy.
Acupuncture divides injuries into two main categories, which determine the treatment plan. Acute injuries (that happened recently) and chronic injuries (unresolved for 3 or more months).
Acute injuries need to be properly assessed before any type of treatment can begin. It is best to get examined and properly diagnosed, possibly with the help of an X-ray or MRI to rule out a more serious injury. Acupuncture should start as soon as the diagnosis of the injury is established. An improvement is usually noticed within one or two treatments. If an injury is not very severe, 3-4 treatments typically resolves the condition. More serious injuries require 4+ treatments before an accurate prognosis and treatment plan can be given.
Right after an acute injury happens it is helpful to remember the acronym RICE. Each letter stands for one of the four steps to follow immediately after an injury: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This will help quicken recovery and provide short term relief.
Chronic injuries also need to be properly assessed before any type of treatment begins. It is important to determine if there is an underlying structural cause for a lingering injury.
Over time, unresolved injuries lead to areas losing strength, flexibility and stability. Acupuncture for chronic conditions focuses on invigorating and strengthening specific parts of the body. This is done while also decreasing the pain that commonly accompanies most chronic sports injuries.
It is more difficult to generalise the length of treatment for chronic conditions because medications, prolonged inactivity, low morale & surgeries complicate treatment. Nevertheless, the patient should notice a positive change in his/her specific condition within 8 to 10 treatments.