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Acupuncture and Sports Injury – 4 million of all injuries that occur in the US every year are sports-related. Children and athletes are the most affected groups. Every athlete at one point has failed to reach their maximum potential as a result of sports injuries, lingering pain and fatigue. Sports injuries not only have negative effects on athletic performance but also endurance. There are many non-conventional treatments and relief options for these types of injuries. They include herbal supplements, acupuncture, and therapeutic massages. Of these, acupuncture stands out as the most promising. (Podlog. L, Dimmock. J and Miller. J, 2011).

At Boca Raton Acupuncture, we pride ourselves on being the go-to treatment center for sports related injury. We have helped countless patients, from professional athletes to weekend warriors, get back on track after a sports related injury. Read more on sports injury below and ultimately how acupuncture can not only facilitate recovery but also take you to the next level!

Sports Injuries Explained

Basically, sports injuries are injuries that occur when people participate in organized fitness exercises, training sessions, organized sports, and competitions. During any athletic season, the human body undergoes constant stress. Muscles are pulled and pushed to their maximum potential, forming micro-tears (Heil, J, and Podlog, L., 2012). These injuries may be caused by inappropriate footwear, lack of safety equipment, dehydration, lack of nutrients, improper training and structural and functional discrepancies.

The injuries can be classified into two main categories: acute traumatic and chronic injuries. Acute traumatic injuries occur after a blow from a single force application, for instance from a cross body block in a football situation. Chronic injuries (also known as overuse) happen as a result of repetitive training (over a period of time).

While a sprain is the tearing of ligaments, a strain is the stretching of muscles and tendons. According to academic research published in Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Review (2014) by Dr. Aakash Chauhan, the most common athlete sports injuries to the wrist and the hands are tendonitis, intersection syndrome, mallet finger, and sagittal band ruptures.

Other common injuries include:

  • Knee injuries
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Shinbone pain
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Swollen muscles

Symptoms of Sports Injuries

Besides the pain, here are signs and symptoms of sports injuries:

  • Swelling of the injured body area
  • Sudden severe pain, especially when playing or exercising
  • Dull ache when resting
  • A joint or bone that is evidently out of place
  • A very tender elbow, wrist hand, finger or arm
  • Not being in a position to place weight on foot, leg, ankle, or knee
  • Purple or red skin discoloration
  • Reduced joint motion

Western Medical treatments for sports-related injuries

Treatment for sports injuries often begins with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). It is the key to early management of many types of injuries. The therapy involves:

R– Resting the affected area for at least 48 hours.

I– Using a towel to apply ice packs on the injured part for 10-30 minutes.

C– Reducing swelling and restricting movement using a compression bandage.

E– Elevating the affected limb to a comfortable position not only reduces the swelling but also brings the limb to full rest.


Here are other methods your physician may use to cure theΒ injuries.

a) Over- the-counter (OTC) medication for acute sport injuries

Anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to minimize inflammation as well as relieve pain. Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common OTCs. For effective recovery, many use Acetaminophen or Tylenol immediately after the accident; before the swelling occurs. It reduces pain without increasing bleeding. After the second day, the use of NSAIDs like Aleve (naproxen) or ibuprofen is usually suggested. NSAIDs have side effects such as stomach upsets and can cause bleeding. You are therefore advised to take them with food or milk. Prolonged use of NSAIDs can also cause other complications, so always follow instructions and use the lowest dosage possible.

b) Immobilization

Immobilization is a common western injury treatment option. Perfect examples of immobilizers include the shoulder or arm sling, injured bones splint, a neck brace and plaster cast for broken bones. Immobilization reduces injured limb movement, allowing the affected area to heal as well as prevent further injury. In addition, it reduces swelling, spasms, and pain by allowing blood to flow easily to the injury.

c) Surgery

Surgery is only used for severe sports injuries to repair torn muscles and ligaments and broken bones. Most injuries do not however require surgery.

d) Cortisone Injections

Cortisone injections on the affected areas are used when the inflammation is very severe. Steroids are used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Sports injuries and acupuncture: Efficacy as per clinical trials and published research

The application of acupuncture in treating sports injuries has been part of medical practice since time immemorial, but its clinical potential and effectiveness has only been a subject of interest for a few decades (Mitchell, 1986). A study was conducted in 1999 on Premier League clubs in London to determine the number of teams using acupuncture. 7 out of the 20 interviewed clubs used acupuncture. It was also discovered the seven clubs performed better than those using conventional approaches.

In 1998, Yang J conducted research on different sports injury treatment options. Out of forty interviewees, 32 were randomly picked to receive acupuncture while the remaining 8 comprised of the control group. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Chlorzoxazone and Fenbid were administered to the control group. It was discovered that the acupuncture group performed better than the group receiving drugs.

Many sports teams in the USA including the NHL, NFL and MLB now have acupuncturists on staff. For example, Lisa Ripi is a licensed acupuncturist who treats Jets, Bengals, Giants, Dolphins and Steelers players. Like many acupuncturists, Ripi focuses on swollen, achy, sore body parts and applies acupuncture to them. She treats 40 NFL players in 5 cities. Former Jets fullback, Tony Richardson, who was a regular client in his playing days, confirmed that his soreness used to disappear following needle sessions with Ripi (Bishop. G, 2010).

So, if you’re experiencing any type of sports related injury and you reside in the Boca Raton area, we’re very confident that we can help you heal. Learn more on how acupuncture works by clicking here or calling us today to schedule a free consultation.



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