Healing from a sprain, a strain, or a broken bone can be a slow, challenging process that does not always turn out the way you’d want. If only more people knew what acupuncture and other modalities of Chinese medicine (CM) can do for acute injury! From speeding the healing process to helping you to avoid surgery, there are many, many ways that CM can help you to regain your appearance, strength, and range of motion.
How so, you might ask; how so?
~~~The nuts and bolts~~~
A foundation of Chinese medical thought focuses on circulation. When there is stagnant blood, lymph, and qi due to swelling, your practitioner can rely on acupuncture, traditional bodywork therapy modalities, and/or herbs to gently and appropriately get things moving in the right direction. Ultimately, the goal is to restore balance not just in terms of circulation, but also with respect to the way the fascia and other tissues align. We don’t want scars or fascial adhesions or anything that might reduce a healthy range of motion of the joint or structure. Instead, your acupuncturist will work with your body to restore a healthy flow of circulation throughout the body and surrounding the injured area.
A Chinese medicine approach will rely on a variety of techniques that can include bodywork therapy, acupuncture, and/or herbs to reduce pain and support your body’s own natural healing capacity.
~~~It is a specialty, so find a specialist~~~
Most people do know that acupuncture and other modalities of CM are great for pain, and treating pain is something that most acupuncturists can readily do. But an acute injury, especially if it’s severe and/or involves fracture, is another matter. After you’ve been seen by either your PCP or by an orthopedic surgeon, the next step is to go to CM practitioner who is well-versed in acute injury treatment.
You might be surprised to discover that acupuncturists do specialize. Before it ever occurred to me to change careers and become an acupuncturist, for example, I knew that I loved the human skeleton and muscles. As I recount in the “About” page of this web site, I used to say that if I had two lives to live, I’d be an orthopedic surgeon in the second one. During student clinic, when I was learning how to palpate correctly, I’d sometimes gasp and stop and ask, “What happened here?!” Inevitably, the patient would say, “Oh, I broke my arm when I was a kid” or “That’s where I broke my ankle last year.” I have a sensitivity for bones and my teachers, who could see that I had a gift, taught me how to palpate for deep knowledge of soft tissue too. It’s no surprise that now, as a licensed practitioner, I have considerable experience working with scars, broken bones, and various soft tissue injuries. This kind of work is an art form!
Most acupuncturists are a great resource for chronic pain, but if you have an acute injury or a broken bone, it’s best to work with an acupuncturist who specializes in acute injury treatment.
~~~Sprain, strain, and break~~~
A sprain involves ligaments, and this can be anything from a relatively minor stretching to a truly unpleasant tear. Strains, for their part, affect either the muscle or the tendon and are graded from one to three (minor to complete tear). A broken bone can range from a clean break to … well, it can be bad, let’s just leave it at that. (For further information, you may want to refer to “Understanding Bone Fractures: The Basics.”
Knowing what you’ve got and doing the right thing at the right time makes all the difference. You don’t want to have an injury that heals slowly or incorrectly, or to be left with scars, reduced range of motion, and/or joints that ache when the weather changes. Ideal is to heal in a reasonably linear way and without too much time on the sidelines of your life. Chinese medicine delivered by a specialist can help you to achieve this goal.
As a former professor, I hold that knowledge is power. When you know what you’ve got going on and how the healing process works, you are in a much stronger position. Always work with someone who will explain things to you.
~~~They’re called “accidents” for a reason~~~
As folks start going outside and doing more fun things, sports injury (if not just injury from moving around more) is inevitable. But being sidelined for a long time or having no way to heal other than by invasive surgery or interminable PT are not the only ways to resolve injury. As a practitioner, one of the things I love most is when a patient comes back from their appointment with the orthopedic surgeon and tells me that their doctor was truly astonished by how quickly and how well they healed. Hearing this as much as I have is a major reason why I love doing this particular work so much. The pride in my patients’ voices as they tell me this means the world to me as a practitioner. And the validation from their doctor is nice, but even better is hearing how the patient is now happily pain free and enjoying a return to sports or other activities of daily living,
They’re called accidents for a reason. You didn’t plan to get injured. But you certainly need a worthy plan if you want to restore your health and get back to doing the things that you love to do. Best bet? See if you can experience Chinese medicine before you need it and have an excellent acupuncturist in mind for if you ever are injured. Proactive rather than reactive makes life so much easier.
Have a great summer!
Paula Bruno, Ph.D., L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, an AOBTA-CP traditional Chinese bodywork therapist, and a wellness educator. She maintains an active and growing practice at her Austin, TX office. Dr. Bruno is also available for distance appointments for wellness consultation or coaching.
In her first career, she was a Spanish professor.
Dr. Bruno’s specialties as a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner include: • Musculoskeletal health (acute or chronic pain relief; Ehlers Danlos syndrome & hypermobility support) • Digestive support, gut health, and weight loss • Aesthetic treatment, including scar revision • Men’s health • General preventative care and immune support for all persons.
Description of slide show images: (1). Front cover of book (Tom Bisio’s A Pearl From The Dragon’s Neck); (2). Front cover of book (David Legge’s Close To The Bone); (3). View of the spines of these books.
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Note: Material on this web site site is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease, illness, or ailment. A TCM practitioner in Texas identifies syndrome patterns but does not diagnose illness. Material on this web site does not purport to identify syndrome patterns.