First, what is an acute injury?
It is a fall or bump, like a sprained ankle, that causes swelling or bruising at the site of the injury. Make sure the injury is a strain or sprain, not a break. If you choose to ice the injured area, keep it to the first 24 hours after the injury then switch to heat. There is no evidence ice helps the injury heal faster, at all. Swelling is your body’s way of healing and letting you know that something is wrong. It is normal to have swelling after an injury . Use heat to keep the blood and circulation moving at the site of injury. Ice tightens everything up and prevents blood circulation. If you can bear it, then light stretching can help the injury to heal. Too much rest or total rest will cause muscle atrophy. This causes the injured muscle to become weak. Also, this depends on how severe the injury is! There is a difference between a rolled ankle or a torn tendon.
Techniques to try:
Epsom salt soak
Light stretching - use pain as your guide! Over extending will hurt rather than help.
Wrapping the injury with an ace bandage if you need one
Natural anti-inflammatories like ginger or turmeric
Arnica gel and pills
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TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is the joint at the right and left of your jaw, just under your ears. When people say they have “TMJ,” they mean pain and stiffness in the jaw joints and in the jaw itself. What causes this pain? Commonly, when people are very stressed, their muscles tend to become tense and tight. In addition to jaw pain, this muscle tension can cause chronic muscle tightness in the neck and shoulders and lead to headaches. Usually, a tense neck and shoulders accompanies jaw pain. It is common to tense up the neck and shoulder muscles without realizing it! Teeth grinding and clenching is another unconscious stress reaction. Is this you? Being intentional helps to recognize stress and let it go.
You can manage TMJ and jaw pain at home with the use of heating pads, warm compresses, deep breathing, acupuncture, meditation, stretches and self-massage.
Here are 3 stretches you can do for relief.
One thing to not do is chew gum. Chewing gum can exacerbate the pain and discomfort felt in the jaw.
What difference does this make for you? Please comment below because I would love to know.
What is neuropathy? Neuropathy is a stabbing, burning or tingling sensation. It can be caused by diabetes, spinal stenosis, chemotherapy, shingles or nerve damage.
Western treatments may include surgery, but generally neuropathy is treated with drugs. Some patients cannot tolerate the side effects of drug treatment or it may be ineffective and they seek out alternative treatments like acupuncture to help the neuropathy and manage the side effects of the drugs. In many cases patients are able to reduce the amount of drugs they are taking and sometimes even stop taking them, completely managing their condition with acupuncture.
Treatment outcomes with acupuncture
In general, the more severe the case the more acupuncture treatment a patient is going to need. Your acupuncturist will discuss your general health, how severe the pain is, how large the affected area is and how long you’ve had the condition. From the acupuncturist’s assessment you will be given a custom treatment plan. Patients who follow the treatment plan exactly get the best results.
Supportive treatment at home includes quitting smoking, getting regular exercise and good sleep habits. Acupuncture can help support you in lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, getting better sleep and starting an exercise routine. Sleep is critical with any chronic condition because when we are sleeping is when the body is healing. Walking, yoga, chair yoga and stretching are great exercises to begin with at home.
Make sure you get yourself some good shoes and treat your body well. Compression socks might be helpful too.
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Prescription pain medication “numbs” you out. Acupuncture works differently. Acupuncture is more like a crockpot than a microwave - it works slowly through and through rather than heating you up quick and leaving hot spots in the middle. Sometimes people are unsure if acupuncture is working or not. Frequently when a person has a chronic pain condition they shut off the connection to their body as a survival mechanism so it can be hard to know! Here’s how to tell the acupuncture is working.
Are you taking less pain medication?
This is a big one. If you are able to drop a dose, wait longer between doses or forget to take it those are all good signs! You may still be feeling pain however needing less or a less strong medication is a sign your body is healing.
Do you notice a change in the location, frequency and/or intensity of the pain?
Did the area of the pain get smaller? If your whole back hurt and now its just your upper back that is a sign you are getting better. Do you get headaches twice a week instead of daily? That is a very good sign. Has the overall pain level decreased? Again, good news!
Do you feel relief right after the treatment but then it “wears off”?
This is a good sign. Keep coming back! As you get more acupuncture your body will become more stable and the relief will last longer and longer. This is why we recommend coming more often in the beginning of treatment - an ideal minimum is twice a week for moderate to severe conditions. Your body is in a habit right now and it’s going to take some time for it to learn how to do something new. Stick with it, it’s working!
Are you able to do more?
Maybe you’re able to forget about your pain sometimes. Maybe simple things like grocery shopping or going down the stairs is easier. Can you walk a little farther before having to sit down? Is getting dressed easier? Can you get down on the floor and play with your grandkids and be able to get back up again? Is your pain not interfering with your life as much? Acupuncture is working. Keep going!
Do you feel better overall?
Are you smiling a little bit more? Feel a little more hopeful? Is your anxiety or brain fog better? Living with chronic pain can be exhausting and depressing - sometimes an improved mood is the first sign acupuncture is working. So if you’re feeling a little less grumpy - keep coming back!
Acupuncture is a great tool to manage chronic pain because it not only helps to reduce pain, it also helps with energy level, mood, sleep and stress which can worsen chronic pain conditions. It also has no side effects and feels pretty amazing! A person’s tolerance to pain decreases when they aren’t getting enough sleep and are stressed out for example. Life seems more overwhelming and we have less ability to manage it when we aren’t feeling well. Our bodymindspirit is interconnected, what affects one area of us, affects all.
Meaghan Massella, M.Ac, L.Ac, Dipl. Ac (NCCAOM) is an acupuncturist, business owner and mother of 2.