Strains, commonly called “pulled muscles”, are minor injuries to muscles that are caused when a muscle is overstretched. Symptoms include stiffness, soreness, and tenderness that occurs several hours after the injury. There may be slight swelling of the injured muscle. Strains can vary in severity, but usually heal on their own with rest.
Sprains are more serious and more painful than strains. They are injuries to ligaments and they take longer to heal. Symptoms include mild to severe pain at the time of injury, tenderness and swelling of the joint, decreased range of motion to the joint, and bruising. Sprains also vary in severity and usually require attention to relieve the pain and swelling and speed the healing of the injured tissues. Because serious sprains may weaken ligaments, they can lead to recurring injuries.
“Pain is what prompts most athletes to seek help from an acupuncturist. Injuries that seem to respond well to acupuncture include sprains and strains, lower back pain, tennis elbow, and tendonitis” – F. Kennedy Gordon, MD, a sports medicine specialist in New Jersey who performed acupuncture on Olympic athletes training for the 2002 Winter Games.
Acupuncture, topical herbs, and/or internal herbs can be used to relieve swelling and pain and speed the healing process. In addition, strengthening the tissues can help to prevent future injuries. There is a long history of martial arts injuries being treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine and whole books have been dedicated to this.
One hundred and twenty cases of soft tissue injury were evaluated both subjectively and objectively for pain after acupuncture and it was concluded that: “Acupuncture treatment on soft tissue disease based on TCM syndrome differentiation theory is thus shown to be effective.” ¹
¹ Yuan CX, Xing JH, Yan CY. Observations on clinical therapeutic effect in treating soft tissue injuries by acupuncture, with pain threshold and electromyography as parameters. J Tradit Chin Med. 1989 Mar;9(1):40-4.