by Caitlin Isbister, Lic.Ac., MSTOM, Dipl.O.M.
The Boston area was stunned a week and a half ago after Rajon Rondo, the point guard for the Celtics, suffered an ACL tear and is expected to be out for the rest of the season. Whether you are a professional athlete like Rondo, an amateur athlete, or a weekend warrior, you are also at risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, especially if your sport is basketball, football, skiing or soccer. Did you know acupuncture has the potential to decrease pain, speed recovery time, and get you (and Rondo) back to the court or field quicker?
How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin, hair-like needles into the body at certain points. The needle is used as a conduit to direct the bioelectric energy, or qi, in the body, and to break through any of the body's qi, blood and/or fluid blockages. Each acupuncture treatment is tailored to the patient’s specific needs. Needling often occurs locally around the affected joint, but it also will include needles further away from the knee around the ankle and/or foot, and depending on the patient's constitution, on the arms, head and back.
One physiological way acupuncture decreases pain is by the release of the endorphins (pain-relieving hormones) into the bloodstream. Needling also increases blood flow to the affected area and decreases inflammation, swelling and edema in the area. Often, surgery is required to replace the torn ligament with a substitute graft made of tendon (1). In these cases, acupuncture can be utilized after the surgery occurs. It can decrease postoperative pain, increase range of motion of the knee and lower extremity and speed recovery time. Acupuncture often works well in conjunction with bodywork, chiropractic care, and physical therapy.
In addition to needles, the following modalities may be utilized during acupuncture treatments:
- Electroacupuncture: metal clips of an electrical stimulation machine are attached to the needles, thereby promoting the release of endorphins and decreasing pain.
- Moxibustion: The herb mugwort, or artemesia vulgaris, is used topically or nearby the affected joint and points on the body to stimulate the blood flow to the area and promote healing.
- Chinese Herbal Medicine: If appropriate, Chinese herbal formulas are administered to the patient, which target the lower extremities, promote blood flow and decrease inflammation. These vary depending upon the patient's constitution.
At Kate Ruma and Associates Acupuncture, we have treated knee pain successfully for years, stemming from a variety of causes, including: arthritis, ACL/medial collateral ligament tears, tendinitis, Baker's cysts, and/or bursitis. If you have questions about how acupuncture might help your knee pain/injury, please call us at 617.372.3960, email us at Info@KateRuma.com, or visit us at www.kateruma.com.
Caitlin effectively treats various types of sports injuries at Kate Ruma & Associates Acupuncture in Arlington, MA. She also treats headaches, stress disorders, and women's health issues. In 2011, she held a residency at Boston Medical Center in the Department of Family Medicine. Caitlin is a third degree black belt in taekwon-do, and when not in the office, enjoys practicing taekwon-do patterns, yoga, and qi gong. She can be reached at Caitlin@KateRuma.com.
1. ACL Injury: Does it Require Surgery? American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00297