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Acupuncture can be a very effective treatment for musculoskeletal problems to relieve pain and muscle spasm or guarding. Acupuncture is not for everybody. especially those who are not keen on needles but generally provides great results with very little if any discomfort. We provide acupuncture in Southampton and Salisbury. To book an acupuncture appointment please call James on:
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Acupuncture For Sports Injuries Case Study
A 44 year old male electrician presented with left side shoulder pain in the anterior and medial deltoid. A dull ache VAS 4/10 started gradually 2/12 ago and is slowly getting worse, especially with prolonged sitting. 1/52 ago the patient stretched above his head and felt a stretching sensation in the upper arm. A sharp shooting pain now radiates into the deltoid and upper arm and around the medial boarder of the scapular (VAS 8/10 intermittent).
The patient is unable to raise his arm above shoulder height, horizontally adduct the arm or abduct the arm without sharp shooting pain. The patient has a history of whiplash into the cervical and lumbar spine on two separate occasions 10 and 4 years ago. There was general stiffness through the lumbar and thoracic spine and tenderness through the paraspinals and left rotator cuff and trapezius muscles. The working hypothesis was a radiculopathy into the upper arm with an underlying posture problem from previous injury aggravated by prolonged sitting. A course of five acupuncture treatments were prescribed to treat the patient.
Acupuncture Treatment 1 (patient sitting)
Due the high level of pain LI 4 was needled bilaterally to have an analgesic effect for the patient. This was needled first to allow the patient to get used to the sensation of the needles distal from his pain to reduce apprehension. LI 14 was needled unilaterally as a more local analgesic point for the shoulder pain. On palpation there was tenderness throughout the deltoid muscle and onto LI14 itself.
LI15 and TH14 are the points at the eyes of the shoulder to help reduce the shoulder pain due to the more chronic state of the condition this may also help improve the general mobility of the shoulder joint. As the patients symptoms are that of a radiculopathy SI 11 was used to relieve pain around the shoulder girdle that radiates into the upper arm, this point was also tender on palpation.
Tenderness into the trapezius muscle which has become very tight from protecting the shoulder was treated using GB 21.
After the treatment the patient reported reduced discomfort in the trapezius and shoulder mobility had slightly improved. The underlying pain had reduced to VAS 3/10 but the pain on movement was still VAS 8/10.
Acupuncture Treatment 2 (patient sitting)
Patent reported symptoms to be similar to the start of the last session but more discomfort in the scapular area and stiffness in the neck from working at the computer. Trapezius has less tenderness on palpation.
As before LI4 bilaterally, LI14, LI15, TH14 and SI11 were used. In addition, ST 38 was used as a distal point to the shoulder and stimulated by pressure before any acupuncture treatment at other levels. This improved mobility and the patient reported ‘freedom’ of the shoulder joint. GB 20 was also used to help with neck stiffness which has developed from last treatment.
After the treatment the neck felt much better with less stiffness. The underlying shoulder pain was still VAS3/10 but movements were a lot better and EOR pain was VAS 6/10.
Acupuncture Treatment 3 (patient prone)
The patient reported less discomfort while lifting during his job 3/7 after his last rx but his sitting position while at the desk aggravated symptoms. The patient feels generally more positive with rx. Palpation of the shoulder showed considerable reduction in muscle tone and tenderness. Paraspinals and mid back area were still very tight.
LI4 was used bilaterally, SI11 for radiating shoulder pain, SI9 was used to free the shoulder girdle. The inner bladder line was needled bilaterally to reduce the tension along this meridian line BL 12-15 at a 45 degree angle. The patient reports instant relief and greater mobility in the neck, thoracic spine and shoulders immediately after rx.
Acupuncture Treatment 4 (patient prone)
From last rx the patient feels really good and more mobility in the mid tx. This has reduced the aggravating factor of sitting at a desk, pain is now VAS 1/10. P only now at EOR shoulder abduction.
Si11 (Radiating shoulder pain), LI4 analgesic SI9 (improve ROM) were used as previous rx. Inner bladder line BL 14-21 were needled at a 45 degree angle to help reduce muscle tone and improve mobility. Further improvements were reported and only a niggle at EOR was reported.
Acupuncture Treatment 5 (patient prone)
The patient has now not got any discomfort in everyday activities but can still find a niggle at the end of shoulder abduction and horizontal adduction. On palpation the paraspinals were tender at the lower thoracic spine and lumbar area. SI9 was used to free the shoulder at the end of range and BL 11-15 were used due to the success of the last rx. BL21-26 were used due to the tenderness on palpation and lower back stiffness. After the last treatment the patient was ready to return to the gym and working out in full pain free range of shoulder and neck motion.
Overall, the acupuncture treatment was very effective in helping the patient get relief from his symptom. Direct treatment of the shoulder had a limited in success in the first few sessions. Once the patient reported the sitting posture was an aggravating factor the rx changed to the inner bladder line in the mid thoracic and lower back. This really had a breakthrough and the distal points of (ST38, LI4 and BL14-26) were especially effective as more distal point to the area of pain.