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Karen Jeffery
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Read the 'gory details' from my charity walk.

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Fancy a massage & donating a fiver to a fantastic charity? Send me a text 07891111436 Money goes to The Disasters Emergency Committee.
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At the beginning of the year,  I came across this charity walk and thought it would be a ‘nice thing to do’ and raise some money for a charity here in Colchester. Things didn’t go to plan and I was in two minds about going ahead with it. Watching the…

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This is part of my training for a charity walk in August. It’s a beautiful walk, perhaps not for the fainthearted but doable with plenty of snack breaks, especially on a long summer’s day. There are waymarks as it’s part of a national trail but you…

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At the beginning of the year,  I came across this charity walk and thought it would be a ‘nice thing to do’ and raise some money for a charity here in Colchester. Things didn’t go to plan and I was in two minds about going ahead with it. Watching the…

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It's Acupuncture Awareness week
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Treating sports injuries with traditional acupuncture

Sports injuries sometimes occur during athletic activities, as a result of acute trauma or from overuse of a part of the body. The type of injury can vary from minor toe injuries to major trauma. Commonly it is the soft tissue which becomes damaged, typically resulting in bruising tenderness and swelling, and temporary loss of function.
More seriously, bones can fracture, ligaments rupture, or muscles strain and tear. Mostly the lower limbs are affected by such injuries, with for example footballers and rugby players suffering from, sometimes serious knee ligament injuries. These result because football, for example is often characterised by short, fast and vigorous movements accompanied by sometimes rapid changes in direction, as well as collisions with the ground. These types of injuries are not exclusive to football or rugby; for example in 2002 at the start of an Ashes cricket tour of Australia, the fast bowler Simon Jones suffered a serious rupture of a tendon in his knee. This type of injury is very rare in cricket, and on this occasion it resulted in the near end of Jones career.
Western medical treatment for sports injuries, and musculoskeletal damage range from pain relief and control of inflammation with anti-inflammatory analgesics, immobilisation, physiotherapy and surgery, particularly for serious ligament ruptures and compound fractures if they occur.
Prevention plays a big part too with training regimes and specialist diets to help minimise the factors which can lead to injury. This includes warm-up programs involving heart raising and stretching exercises; and conditioning exercises strengthen muscles and increase flexibility. It is also important for athletes to have at least 1 day per week where they are not engaged in their sport to allow the body to rest. This should be more frequent, and the breaks longer for younger and prepubescent athletes, because the muscles and tendons undergo significant development during puberty.

How does traditional acupuncture approach the treatment of sports injuries. Musculo-skeletal conditions account for around 1 in 3 treatment related enquiries to acupuncturists in the UK.
The underlying principle of traditional acupuncture is that all the body’s functions are connected by the flow of qi or vital energy around the body. Illness and pain, occur when the flow of qi has been impaired in some way. The purpose of diagnosis is to identify the nature and cause of the imbalance, and is carried out using observation, questioning and palpation. Specifically, observation of the development and strength of the body, whether wasted or thin, robust or weak, and how the patient moves, either with rapid movement or lack of movement. Questioning, to identify the full medical history, and how the illness is affecting the quality of life of the person. With sports related injuries, the acupuncturist may want to enquire about the nature of the pain, is it boring in nature, and the exact nature of the limitation in movement, and whether the pain is made worse by cold or alleviated with heat. Palpation includes pulse diagnosis where the acupuncturist will read up to 28 different pulse qualities, on both wrists. By assessing the strength, depth, rhythm and rate of the pulse, different types of disharmony and imbalance of the qi can be identified. Observation also involves examining the tongue, specifically the colour, coating, shape and size, amongst other features.
Having diagnosed the nature and cause of the imbalance a treatment plan will be devised which will be specific to the patient and their condition. This is aimed at resolving the root cause of a condition, as well as addressing the symptoms or complications. The treatment is carried out by inserting ultra fine sterile disposable needles into selected acupuncture points on the body to regulate the flow of qi in the meridians or channels.

With sports injuries, specifically and musculo-skeletal problems in general they are characterised by for example stagnation of qi in the channels or meridians.

What available evidence is there to show how effective or otherwise acupuncture is for the treatment of sports injuries? Several well known athletes are documented as using or have used acupuncture to help them recover from injury or as part of their training program, including the heptathlete Jessica Ennis, Olympic swimmer Rebecca Addlington, and cyclist Chris Hoy.
The BAcC have produced a number of fact sheets about acupuncture treatment and a variety of conditions. The sheets include a discussion of the available research for the condition. The fact sheet for sports injuries can be found at
http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/sports-injuries.html

The research discussed includes systematic reviews that showed the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain relief and improved functioning of injuries to the knee and elbow. There are also studies conducted that do not include a systematic review, these include on suggesting that acupuncture could be helpful in the treatment of shoulder injuries.

Evidence of the effectiveness of treatment for sports injuries are also discussed in other Fact sheets. Specifically the ones addressing back pain and frozen shoulder.

These can be found by using the following link and then clicking on the relevant condition
http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/category/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions.html

Further mention of acupuncture and sports medicine can be found at
http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/public-content/public-pr-press-releases/olympics-highlight-acupuncture-for-athletes.html

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) was formed in 1995. With around 3000 qualified members it represents the largest body of traditional acupuncturists in the UK and guarantees excellence in training, safe practice, and professional development.

To find a qualified acupuncturist or to ask a question about acupuncture and sports injuries, please visit www.acupuncture.org.uk
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