Treatment plan for Injury Recovery using Traditional Chinese Medicine
Theory of TCM in relation to Musculoskeletal conditions: TCM regards pain caused by injury as a stagnation of Qi and Blood. Bio-medically, this relates conditions such as inflammation, bruising, swelling, scarring, fluid retention, adhesions and reduced movement. Treatment using TCM involves acupuncture, cupping, bleeding, massage, exercise, herbal soaks/liniments and herbs taken internally. Treatment via Western Medicine may include pharmaceutical drugs (anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant, analgesic) and also possibly a cortisone injection.
These are injuries directly following trauma/surgery. This stage may only last a few days or extend to a week. There will be swelling, pain, inflammation with a feeling of heat. The goal at this stage is to reduce pain and inflammation and circulate blood through movement. The best response is achieved if treatments are only a couple of days apart. Having at least 3 treatments in this initial stage can greatly reduce recovery time. Treatment methods used include acupuncture, bleeding, cupping, herbs and simple exercise.
Usually beginning within a week after the initial injury and can last up to three weeks. The swelling and pain are reduced and much or all of the inflammation may be gone. There is often stiffness due to spasms in tendons that have contracted reflexively in an attempt to protect the injured area. Care should be taken as this stage as the urge to resume previous levels of activity may result in re-injury. The goal at this stage is to restore movement and normal function. Treatment methods used include acupuncture, cupping, herbs and herbal plasters and strengthening exercise.
This stage begins 3-4 weeks after the injury. Swelling and inflammation has subsided however aching and stiffness may be experienced. Minor sprains/injuries should be resolved by this time (with treatment), but injuries to tendons and ligaments can take up to 6-8wks to heal (longer for severe cases). Care should be taken as this stage as the urge to resume previous levels of activity may result in re-injury. The goal at this stage is to increase activity intensity while continuing treatment to support the recovery. Treatment methods used include acupuncture, cupping, herbs and herbal plasters, heat and strengthening and stretching exercise.
Length of Treatment
The length of treatment largely depends on the stage of the injury recovery, as described above. I have found the best results are attained when several treatments are received over the first week, even for a chronic issue. If this frequency is not available then once per week is the minimum frequency preferred. Following this first week I would expect to see continued positive results over at least the next 4 weeks using weekly treatments. A follow-up treatment after another 2 to 3 weeks will also ensure greater recovery.