Sports Injuries

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4 05, 2012

Pain Free After 15 Years of Suffering from Chronic Pain

Rob came in to see us as a last resort. For years, he’d been dealing with chronic pain related to hip, back, and leg injuries sustained during a serious accident over 15 years ago and his problem seemed to be getting worse.

At 43 years old, he was unable to work, had trouble standing, and was in constant pain. He also reported having low energy, depression, and sleep and anxiety issues.

Rob was at his wit’s end, tired of dealing with constant pain and taking half a dozen different medications that didn’t seem to help. He had tried and found no relief with various other therapies –  including massage therapy, physiotherapy, and chiropractic – and was hopeful acupuncture would work. At the same time he was also convinced he would never get better.

Treatment Plan

Rob came in for twice weekly acupuncture treatments but noticed little change until the sixth visit when he was more relaxed and receptive to the acupuncture treatment.

After that visit he reported an overall decrease in his pain level and said he was able to complete and recover from activities more quickly. At this point, Rob was able to decrease his pain medication and reduced his acupuncture treatments to once a week.

Continued Progress

By the 13th treatment, Rob was in considerably less pain and had decided (with his doctor’s help) to discontinue his pain medication and muscle relaxants. After two weeks, he was amazed at how well he was doing! He was feeling great and said he couldn’t believe he was off medication and feeling so good.

Not only that, but the acupuncture treatments were also helping resolve his insomnia and depression. Rob continued with weekly treatments and continued to test his body physically to see how well it recovered. He was amazed at the results!

Healthy & Happy Again

Rob completed 23 treatments over the course of five months and has made a full recovery.

He is back to his old self, in good spirits, sleeping well, and dealing with absolutely no chronic pain. He is also able to take on physically demanding work and participate in activities that were once impossible including hiking, snowshoeing, and mountain biking.

We didn’t see Rob again until three months later when he stopped in to book an appointment and told us he’d been feeling so good that he’d actually forgotten to come in.

Despite this, he decided to continue with monthly acupuncture designed to ensure he would continue to live pain free.

Man no longer suffering from chronic pain thanks to acupuncture

Acupuncture offers Hope for Patients with Chronic Conditions

Rob is one of our favourite success stories and a great example of the transformative power of acupuncture. 

We see many patients like Rob, discouraged and defeated by chronic pain issues and dealing with depression and sleep issues that are often aggravated by pain medication. Most have tried everything and truly believe they are a hopeless case.

What’s great about these people is that they are the ones who stand to gain the most from acupuncture, which is particularly good at treating chronic conditions like pain, insomnia, migraines, and digestive issues. Feeling better after years of chronic pain is an incredibly empowering experience that can lead to positive changes in other areas of life as well. And for the team here at Okanagan Acupuncture, it is incredibly rewarding to be a part of these positive changes and to see our patients succeed!

Wondering if acupuncture can help you? Contact us to find out more!

 

10 04, 2012

Back Pain Successfully Resolved

Read how one of our patients successfully resolved back pain with acupuncture!

Back pain and sciatica are painful conditions we see often at the Okanagan Acupuncture Centre and thankfully have remarkable success treating. In some cases, pain results from sitting at a desk for extended periods or from physically demanding work. In others, it may be caused by an old injury or a degenerative condition like arthritis.

Frank is a 45-year-old patient of ours who recently came in for sciatica problems so severe he was bedridden, barely able to walk, and taking Tylenol 3s for the pain. No specific injury had occurred to trigger the condition, however Frank said he’d experienced back pain on and off for nine years. This recent flare up had gone on for two weeks and showed no signs of improving.

man enjoying skiing

Patient History

Frank is physically fit, however he has a tendency to burn the candle at both ends and has recently noticed a decline in his energy level. He works hard during the week and spends much of his time on his feet completing repetitive tasks. On the weekends, he enjoys skiing, hiking, and climbing.

An examination found Frank’s tongue looked normal. His pulse also seemed fine, although a little weak in the kidney and spleen position – likely the result of the natural aging process and his overactive lifestyle.

Because of his low energy, his qi energy (chi) was unable to flow properly through his meridians, resulting in pain. If his kidneys were stronger and his energy levels higher, then it is likely his back would not have been so affected by the demands placed on it.

Our Plan of Action

Our acupuncture treatment plan for Frank consisted of two phases: resolving the acute pain and strengthening the body to prevent future occurrences. During the first treatment, Frank received acupuncture at the point of pain and in other areas that would help strengthen the lower back and address the underlying causes of pain.

Frank experienced mild relief after his first treatment and improved 80 per cent after this third treatment. Regular treatments focused on strengthening the lower back and addressing the underlying cause of pain continued, and by the end of the eighth treatment Frank had recovered fully.

The Future Looks Promising

During treatment, we discussed additional ways Frank could improve his health including making diet changes, resting regularly, and not ‘overdoing’ it. We also discussed the importance of regular monthly acupuncture to maintain optimum health.

After combining acupuncture with lifestyle changes, Frank’s prognosis looks good and today he is happily back skiing and has learned to balance his fast-paced lifestyle in a healthy way so that he can remain pain-free.

Frank is just one example of the many people that have benefited from acupuncture! Wondering if acupuncture can help with your condition? Contact us at our downtown Kelowna location to find out more!

23 03, 2012

Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are injuries that occur in athletic activities. Some sports injuries result from accidents; others are due to poor training practices, improper equipment, lack of conditioning, or insufficient warm up and stretching. Many sports injuries can be due to overuse of a part of the body when participating in an activity. Other types of injuries can be caused by hard contact with something. Sports injuries typically involve the musculoskeletal system, which includes the muscles, bones, and associated tissues like cartilage.

Common sports injuries include:

  • Sprains are a stretch or tear of a ligament, causing tenderness, pain, bruising, swelling and inflammation.
  • Strains are a twist, pull, or tear of a muscle or tendon, causing pain, muscle spasms, and weakness. 
  • Knee injuries are very common and can range from mild to severe, from pain or tenderness at the front or side of the knee close to the knee cap, tendinitis, and pain in the iliotibial band (the outer side of the knee), to bone bruises or damage to the knee cartilage or ligaments. 
  • Shin splints are another common sports injury involving pain along the tibia or shin bone, typically seen in runners. 
  • Achilles tendon injuries can occur when there is tendinitis already present in the tendon or when a stretch, tear or irritation happens to the tendon. 
  • More severe can be stress fractures, which occur from repeated stress to a bone over time, most often occurring in the legs or feet, and acute fractures, that can occur from a quick, one-time injury to the bone. 
  • Dislocations occur when the two bones that come together to form a joint become separated. Dislocations a usually caused by contact sports or high-impact sports.

The great news is that acupuncture can be of benefit to all types of sports injuries. It is of course always best to treat an injury in the acute stage or as soon after an injury occurs as possible, in order to assist the body in healing quickly and fully. Early treatment also helps to prevent the possibility of long-term or chronic problems with the injury down the road due to improper healing. However, acupuncture is also very beneficial in any stage of healing and can also be of great help to old, lingering injuries or injuries that did not properly heal. Acupuncture taps into the body’s own resources to encourage the healing process and the body’s optimal functioning. With sports injuries this can mean reduced inflammation, increased circulation, reduced muscle tension, and of course, pain relief. Treating sports injuries, whether old or new, can help the body to regain former functioning and health levels and prevent more long-term consequences such as reduced mobility, stiffness, weakness, or arthritis.

Our bodies have amazing abilities to self-regulate and repair themselves. In any injury the body attempts to minimize, repair and overcome the damage to its normal functions and in many cases, given adequate rest and support, our bodies are able to recover successfully. However, in cases where the body isn’t able to correct a problem on its own, or in cases where long-term damage can occur if left untreated, acupuncture is a promising treatment that helps bolster the body’s healing abilities so that we can return to our normal, healthy selves.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com. 

 

6 03, 2012

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when the blood vessels or nerves in the thoracic outlet (the space just under the collarbone) become compressed. This can cause pain in the shoulders and neck and numbness in the fingers. The symptoms vary depending on whether it is the nerves or the blood vessels that are affected. When the nerves are compressed, symptoms usually include numbness or tingling in the fingers, pain in the shoulder and neck, ache in the arm or hand, and weakened grip. When a vein or artery is compressed, symptoms can include bluish discoloration or lack of colour in the hand, a blood clot under the collarbone, arm pain and swelling (possibly due to blood clots), a throbbing lump near the collarbone, weak or no pulse in the affected arm, and tiny, black spots (infarcts) on the fingers.

Thoracic outlet syndrome may develop from a variety of causes. Physical trauma from a motor vehicle accident, repetitive stress injury from work or sports, anatomical defects such as having an extra rib, poor posture, and pressure on the joints due to body weight or because of carrying an oversized backpack or purse can all lead to thoracic outlet syndrome. Even a long-ago injury can lead to thoracic outlet syndrome in the present, as can pregnancy, because of the joints loosening. In some cases, the cause of thoracic outlet syndrome cannot be determined.

Treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome usually involves a combination of exercises, relaxation, and medications. Physiotherapy is used to open the thoracic outlet, improve range of motion and posture, and strengthen the shoulder muscles. Relaxation techniques may help to reduce tension in the shoulders and maintain posture. Medications such as muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, and pain medications may be prescribed for pain relief. In severe cases where the syndrome does not improve, surgery may be recommended.

Acupuncture is also an option worth considering for thoracic outlet syndrome. Acupuncture is a well-known therapy for pain relief and for musculo-skeletal conditions. Chinese medicine (TCM) does not use the term “thoracic outlet syndrome”, diagnosis instead depends on the specific symptoms that an individual is presenting. Typically thoracic outlet syndrome will be categorised as an injury to the tendon, a bi-syndrome (pain caused by a blockage in one of the body’s meridians and a lack of circulation of qi-energy and blood to the area), or a wei-syndrome (weakening and evening atrophying of a muscle due to a lack of proper nutrients or blood and qi-energy circulation). Depending on the type, the specific symptoms will vary but may include pain, numbness and heaviness of the muscles, tendons or joints, tendon or joint swelling, limitation of movement, and weakness in the limbs.

Acupuncture can help with thoracic outlet syndrome in a number of ways. Acupuncture of course offers very effective pain relief, and it can also reduce inflammation and relax tight muscles or tendons to relieve pressure to the nerve or tendon. Treatment also helps to remove blockages and increase blood circulation and energy, so that the area can receive adequate nourishment to function properly and to heal. Acupuncture can also resolve any imbalances in the meridians that may be causing a weakness in the body, leaving an area prone to injury or strain, as is often the case when a condition develops.

In my practice, I have seen thoracic outlet syndrome respond very positively to acupuncture. A series of treatments can offer relief of symptoms and can help to resolve the condition, depending on the cause. Stretching and postural exercises are also important and can help support recovery from this syndrome.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at  www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

3 03, 2012

Soleus and Achilles Tendon

I would like to thank you for the relief you have given me. I suffered a calf, Soleus and Achilles tendon injury as a result of my training for the Half Iron. One of my training partners said that he had experienced the same injury and it took him a year to recover.

When I came to see you I expected that I would have a long and arduous road back to training. Truthfully, I thought that I could scrap my aspirations of a June Half Iron.

Well, with two treatments and a few for good measure I can tell you I am back in the race and feeling confident that I will compete (might be participate). It is a tremendous relief from a pain and emotional point of view.

I can’t thank you enough for your support.

-Desmond Regier

Trade Exchange Canada

Kelowna, BC

www.tectrade.ca

24 01, 2012

Post Operative Recovery

Surgery is a powerful tool in the modern medical tool kit and is used today in a wide range of applications. Surgery for musculoskeletal conditions is called orthopedic surgery, and is used to treat musculoskeletal trauma, degenerative diseases, sports injuries, infections, tumours, and congenital disorders (disorders we are born with). This includes surgeries such as hip or knee replacement, spinal surgery or fusion, carpal tunnel release, or repair of tendons, ligaments, or cartilage. However, there are many, many other surgeries that are performed for a variety of reasons, such as to help relieve or prevent pain, to reduce a symptom, to improve some body function, or to diagnose conditions.

With surgery comes certain post-operative side effects and risks. Some of the major concerns with surgery is dealing with post-surgery pain and the side effects of pain medications, as well as making a complete recovery from surgery and regaining our former mobility and functions.

Doctors rely on powerful medications to relieve pain during and immediately after surgery, including opioids and anesthesia. Opioid pain medications are known to cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, pruritis (itch or a sensation that makes a person want to scratch), constipation, and sleepiness, symptoms which can cause difficulty in the recovery and interfere with our day-to-day life. Use of opioids and their side effects may also delay post-operative recovery.

Acupuncture is an excellent option for post-operative recovery and has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of both post-operative pain and the side effects of opioid medications. Acupuncture is probably best known for the treatment of pain and it is indeed very effective for relieving pain and reducing the need for pain medications. Pain limits your ability to breathe deeply, cough, walk and perform the activities necessary for a speedy recovery, and acupuncture can help to manage the pain so that recovery can happen more quickly.

Acupuncture can also treat the side effects of pain medications including dizziness, upset stomach or nausea, loss of appetite, pruritis (itching sensation), urinary incontinence, and digestive problems, making it an effective option for post-operative recovery.

Acupuncture can also help with the body’s recovery following surgery. While surgical techniques have come a long way, surgery still remains a type of trauma that the body must recover and heal from afterwards. Acupuncture helps to boost the immune system and to restore proper functioning to the body, and in post-operative care can help the body to recover and regain health more quickly.  Acupuncture can also help with inflammation, decrease swelling and improve mobility and range of motion after surgery. This is important to recovery in order for a person to regain their full abilities and have full use of the body in the months down the road from surgery. Acupuncture may also help reduce adhesion formation and reduce scarring and scar tissue as the body heals from surgery.

Research shows that acupuncture can indeed be very effective for post-operative recovery when surgery is followed by a series of acupuncture treatments, and it can also be beneficial to perform acupuncture a day or two before surgery. This ensures that the body is in a healthy state going into surgery in order to ensure a complete and healthy recovery!

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

6 08, 2011

Muscle Cramps

A muscle cramp is a sudden and involuntary spasm or contraction of one or more of the muscles in the body, causing a sudden, sharp muscle pain. You may be able to feel or see a hard lump of muscle tissue beneath the skin. Muscle cramps often occur in the legs. Nocturnal cramps that occur in the calf muscles or toes during sleep are also common. Though generally harmless, muscle cramps can make it temporarily impossible to use the affected muscle.

Muscle cramps can be caused by overuse of a muscle, such as long periods of exercise or physical labor, particularly in hot weather. They may also be caused by dehydration, muscle strain, or holding a position for a prolonged period of time. In many cases the cause of a muscle cramp isn’t known. In other cases, they may be caused by certain medications or related to an underlying medical condition such as arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) in the arteries that deliver blood to the legs, causing leg or foot cramps while exercising; compression of the nerves in the spine (lumbar stenosis); or mineral depletion such as a shortage of potassium, calcium, or magnesium due to diet or medications. Muscle cramps can also be due to certain conditions such as kidney, thyroid, nerve, or hormone disorders, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and anemia.

Muscle cramps usually disappear on their own and can be treated with self-care measures such as stretching and massaging the muscle and applying warmth to it. However, for some people, muscle cramps can be an ongoing problem, and can be very difficult to live with, interfering with sleep or daily routines.

Acupuncture is an effective option for relieving and resolving muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are typically a sign that there is a blockage of blood and energy flowing to an area of the body. When this happens, it causes that area to become weak and less able to perform properly, making the area more vulnerable to injury, over-fatigue, and pain. In addition, in Chinese medicine (TCM), the liver and gallbladder meridians are responsible for nourishing the tendons and ligaments of the body. If there is an imbalance in these organs or if they are not functioning properly, muscle cramps can be one of the resulting symptoms. Acupuncture treatment for muscle cramps will typically involve restoring the liver energy flow and treating any problems with the way that it is functioning. By addressing the underlying health conditions or imbalances that may be contributing to the occurrence of muscle cramps, we can help to restore health with the goal of preventing muscle cramps from occurring again in the future.

Acupuncture can help to increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasms, and relax the body, and the results are usually quite immediate. This makes it a very effective option for treating muscle cramps. With continued treatments, acupuncture can help to improve the body’s health and functioning, so that it is better able to perform and less prone to muscle cramps. In this way it offers not only relief but also resolution of the problem. Whether you are an athlete looking to achieve top performance, or whether you are dealing with a chronic condition and living with muscle cramps as a result, acupuncture can offer relief and help you get back to your daily routine.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.

25 02, 2011

Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is made up of the various muscles and tendons in the shoulder that connect the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade. They also help hold the ball of the upper arm bone firmly in the shoulder socket. The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in our body.

A rotator cuff injury is fairly common and can involve any type of irritation or damage to the rotator cuff muscles or tendons. The most common problems are tendinitis, when one of the rotator cuff tendons becomes inflamed due to overuse or overload (especially common in athletes), bursitis, when the fluid-filled sac (bursa) between the shoulder joint and rotator cuff tendons become irritated and inflamed, and muscle or tendon strain or tear, which can happen with tendonitis that is left untreated, or with stress from overuse.

Injuries are most commonly caused by normal wear and tear of daily life, poor posture or slouching, a sudden fall (and using our arms to break the fall), lifting a too-heavy object or lifting improperly, pulling something heavy, or repetitive arm activities, especially those done overhead, that cause stress to the shoulder.

Symptoms may include shoulder pain, tenderness and weakness, loss of shoulder range of motion, and a tendency to keep the shoulder inactive. Pain is the most common symptom of rotator cuff injuries, and may be experienced when reaching overhead, behind the back, lifting, pulling, or sleeping on the affected shoulder. A severe injury, such as a large tear may cause continuous pain and muscle weakness.

Treatment for rotator cuff injuries typically involves rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, and gentle stretching. Physiotherapy may be recommended to help heal the injury, improve flexibility of the rotator cuff, and develop shoulder muscle strength. Depending on the severity of the injury, full recovery may take from several weeks to several months. In more severe or chronic cases, treatment may involve corticosteroid injections or surgery. About half of the time, a rotator cuff injury can heal with self-care measures or exercise therapy.

Acupuncture can be very helpful in dealing with rotator cuff injuries, and this is good news. Treatments can help to relieve the inflammation, pain and muscle weakness and stiffness caused by the injury, which can speed recovery and bolster the body’s self-healing mechanisms. This makes acupuncture an excellent option in treatment of rotator cuff injuries, as it can complement other treatment therapies and can reduce the length of recovery time. Acupuncture can also be of particular benefit to lagging injuries that seem to just not want to get better. In addition, acupuncture helps the body to function better, and so can help to strengthen the shoulder and promote its proper functioning.

In Chinese medicine, rotator cuff injuries are often due to an obstruction of the flow of qi-energy and blood to the shoulder, causing pain and weakness. Acupuncture can remove these blockages to allow full circulation of qi-energy and blood to the shoulder, allowing it to receive the nourishment it needs for proper functioning. In addition, a person may also have internal balances or weaknesses that make him or her particularly prone to a shoulder injury of some sort. By determining the cause of the pain and looking at each person's individual health, we can not only resolve the pain and weakness that is being experienced, but we can also strengthen the body so that it is functioning in better health and less prone to a repeat injury or pain problem in the future.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna.

3 01, 2011

Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the large band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Achilles tendinitis is caused by repetitive or intense strain on the Achilles tendon. It is most often caused by a sport-related injury that involves overuse, intense exercise, jumping, or other activities that strain the tendon and calf muscles. It can also be caused by exercising without warming up properly, poor flexibility of the calf muscles, or starting a new exercise regimen after a long period of little or no exercise.

Achilles tendinitis usually causes pain that develops and worsens gradually over time. Symptoms can be a mild ache or pain at the back of the leg and above the heel after exercise, more severe pain with prolonged or intense exercise, tenderness or stiffness (particularly in the morning) that may improve with mild activity, mild swelling or a "bump" on the Achilles tendon, a crackling or creaking sound when you touch or move the Achilles tendon, and weakness or sluggishness in the lower leg.

Most cases of Achilles tendinitis are treated with simple at-home care, such as engaging in less strenuous exercise or taking a break from a regular exercise routine, and ice, compression and elevation in the acute stages. Stretching and exercises are important for recovery and for preventing recurring problems. If Achilles tendinitis continues to be a problem, treatment may be anti-inflammatory medications for pain and in more severe cases, a cortisone injection or even surgery. If left untreated, Achilles tendinitis can become a chronic problem, and can lead to more complicated problems such as tendinosis, (a weakening of the tendon that makes it more vulnerable to severe damage) or a tear or rupture in the tendon (a painful injury that usually requires surgery to repair the damaged tendon).

Acupuncture is a great option in the management of Achilles tendinitis and can promote proper healing to ensure full recovery from this condition. As with other injuries, Achilles tendinitis is, according to Chinese medicine (TCM), caused by stagnation of qi-energy and blood. When the body’s energy is blocked or not flowing properly, the area that is blocked is unable to receive proper nourishment to perform its functions, leading to pain, stiffness, and weakness in the area. This blockage can be due to external causes such as trauma or injury, or from internal causes such as a weakness in the leg or heel due to our genetics or accumulated lifestyle habits. Acupuncture treatment focuses on removing the blockage and helping the energy and blood to flow again in order to remove pain and resolve the symptoms of the injury. This also helps the body to get blood and energy to the injured area, so that it can properly heal.

An acupuncturist also looks at what underlying factors have influenced health and weakened the tendon or made it vulnerable to injury. These can be things like our genetic constitution, our overall health, and our lifestyle choices such as nutrition, diet, and stress, that can lead to internal health imbalances that can contribute to injury. By also treating these underlying factors, we can strengthen the injured area and improve health, to help prevent future reoccurrence. In this way, acupuncture can be a great help for the resolution of an Achilles tendon problem.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

3 01, 2011

Tendinitis

Tendinitis is the inflammation or irritation of a tendon- the thick, fibrous cords that attach muscles to bones. Tendinitis causes pain and tenderness just outside a joint. While tendinitis can occur in any of the body's tendons, it's most common in the shoulders, elbows, wrists and heels.  Tendinitis symptoms typically include pain (usually a dull ache), tenderness, and mild swelling at the point where the tendon attaches to the bone.

Common names for tendinitis are tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, pitcher's shoulder, swimmer's shoulder, and jumper's knee. From this list it’s easy to see that tendinitis typically develops from the stress of a repetitive movement over time. Most people develop tendinitis because of jobs, sports or hobbies that involve repetitive motions, which aggravate the tendons needed to perform the tasks, although tendinitis can also be caused by a sudden injury. Age can also play a factor in tendinitis because as we get older, our tendons become less flexible, making them more prone to injury.

Most cases of tendinitis can be successfully treated with rest and self-care. If symptoms persist for more than a few days and interfere with day-to-day activities, your doctor may recommend medications to reduce the pain and inflammation. Injections of cortisone medication around a tendon may also be recommended to reduce inflammation and help ease pain but repeated injections may weaken a tendon, increasing the risk of tendon rupture. Tendon rupture is a much more serious problem that may require surgical repair. Without proper treatment, tendinitis can develop into a chronic problem and increase the risk of developing into tendon rupture.

Acupuncture can be a great option for resolving tendinitis problems and promoting proper healing. In Chinese medicine, most musculo-skeletal disorders have some relevant underlying imbalance or contributing lifestyle factor. Understanding a person’s general health gives an acupuncturist insight into the internal imbalances that can contribute to injury. Lifestyle can play a role, whether it be our occupation, the exercise or sports we choose, or our nutrition and diet. Chinese medicine also considers the role of emotion and thought in health, as they can be either the cause or the symptom of an internal balance.

With tendinitis, and all types of musculo-skeletal injuries, pain is caused by stagnation of qi-energy and blood. Acupuncture treatment focuses on removing the blockage and helping the energy and blood to flow again in order to remove pain and resolve the symptoms of the injury. This also helps to promote proper and complete healing.

In addition, we look at what underlying factors have influenced health and weakened the joint or made it vulnerable to injury. These causes can be external (such as exposure to the elements or an external trauma or blow to the area) or internal (caused by an imbalance in the body’s normal functioning due to our genetics or our lifestyle). By also treating these underlying factors, we are can strengthen the injured area and improve health, with the goal of preventing future reoccurrence.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

3 01, 2011

Elbow Pain

The elbow is a complex joint formed by three long bones. Four sets of muscles help move the joint and are attached to the bones by thick tendons. Damage to any of these structures or to the joint's network of nerves, blood vessels and ligaments can lead to elbow pain.

Often elbow pain isn't serious, but because we use our elbows in so many ways, elbow pain can affect our daily lives and can lead to chronic or lingering problems. Most elbow pain results from overuse injuries, often sports-related but also as a result of activities or work that require repetitive arm, wrist, or hand movements. Elbow pain may also be due to arthritis, but the elbow joint is much less prone to wear-and-tear damage than other joints are. Common causes of elbow pain include ligament sprain and tears, golfer’s elbow, dislocation, elbow fracture, tendinitis, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis, or irritation or damage to one of the nerves in the elbow.

Acupuncture can offer positive results for the various disorders of the elbow. One of the first steps of diagnosis is to determine which meridians have been most affected, depending on where the pain is located. This helps an acupuncturist to determine the focus of treatment, and the points to use.

Although muskulo-skeletal problems like elbow disorders are typically due to external causes such as a blow to the joint or an overuse injury, internal weaknesses of the body can complicate or aggravate a problem once it is there. So we also look at the overall health of the internal functions to find any areas of imbalance, particularly those that affect the meridians of the elbow. Imbalances will contribute to weakness in the elbow and make it more prone to injury, as well as more slow to heal.

Acupuncture can be very effective for the many possible problems of the elbow, both acute and chronic. These can be problems of the muscles, such as spasms, cramps, muscle strains, or overuse injuries; problems of the ligaments and other soft tissue, such as ligament strains, bursitis, adhesions and scar tissue; and problems of the joint, such as with gout and the various types of arthritis. Acupuncture treatment can relieve pain, aid healing and help prevent future problems with elbow disorders.

Our bodies are amazing organisms that have the ability to self-regulate and repair themselves. In any disorder the body attempts to minimize, repair and overcome the damage to its normal functions and in many cases, given adequate rest and support, our bodies are able to recover successfully. However, in cases where the body isn’t able to correct a problem on its own, acupuncture is a promising treatment that helps bolster the body’s healing abilities so that we can return to our normal, healthy selves.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC.

16 12, 2010

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is an overuse injury that affects the area where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony part of the outside elbow. This causes pain in the outside of the elbow, which can also radiate from the outside of the elbow into the forearm and wrist. There can be pain when you extend your wrist and pain during certain activities such as shaking hands, turning a doorknob, or holding certain objects, such as a coffee cup. The condition can also cause forearm weakness. The pain of tennis elbow is similar to golfer's elbow, but golfer's elbow occurs on the inside, rather than on the outside, of the elbow.

Tennis elbow is caused by repeated contraction of the forearm muscles that are used to straighten and raise the hand and wrist- such as with the backhand stroke when playing tennis. However, there are many other common causes of tennis elbow, including using plumbing tools, playing other racket sports, painting, raking and weaving. The repeated motions and stress to the tissue may result in inflammation or a series of tiny tears in the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the bone at the outside of the elbow.

Generally, rest is the best medicine for tennis elbow. But tennis elbow that has not been allowed to heal properly can lead to chronic pain. Using your arm too strenuously before it has properly healed can cause further damage or prevent proper healing. Analyzing what motions are causing the problem can help you to change your habits to reduce stress on the elbow. Exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the forearm can also help recovery and prevent re-injury.

Acupuncture can be a great option for dealing with tennis elbow and promoting proper healing. In Chinese medicine, almost every musculo-skeletal disorder has some relevant underlying imbalance or contributing lifestyle factor. Understanding a person’s general health gives an acupuncturist insight into the internal imbalances that can contribute to injury. Lifestyle can play a role, whether it be our occupation, the exercise or sports we choose, or our nutrition and diet. Chinese medicine also considers the role of emotion and thought in health, as they can be either the cause or the symptom of an internal balance.

With tennis elbow, and all types of musculo-skeletal injuries, pain occurs when there is stagnation of qi-energy and blood. Acupuncture treatment focuses on removing the blockage and helping the energy and blood to flow again in order to remove pain and resolve the symptoms of an injury such as tennis elbow.

In addition, we look at what underlying factors have influenced health and weakened the elbow or made it vulnerable to injury. These causes can be external (such as exposure to the elements or an external trauma or blow to the area) or internal (caused by an imbalance in the body’s normal functioning due to our genetics or our lifestyle). By also treating these underlying factors, we are actually strengthening the injured area and improving health, with the goal of preventing future reoccurrence.

In this way, acupuncture not only relieves symptoms, but goes further to address the heart of the problem, unlike other treatments such as medications, which serve only to relieve symptoms. Acupuncture shows us that the pain of tennis elbow doesn't have to keep you from enjoying your favorite activities.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC.

14 10, 2010

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway bound by bones and ligaments located on the inside of your wrist. It protects the main nerve to your hand and the tendons that bend your fingers. When there is pressure placed on the nerve, it produces numbness, tingling, pain and over time, loss of strength in the hand, a condition that is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Pressure on the nerve can stem from anything that reduces the space for it in the carpal tunnel, such as overusing the hand in work, sports and daily activities particularly through repetitive motions, injury to the area, or other health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, certain hormonal disorders, or fluid retention during pregnancy. In many cases, carpal tunnel symptoms may actually be caused by a nerve compression in the neck rather than by a narrowing of the carpal tunnel. Bad posture, for example, can cause compression of the nerves that run down the arm and eventually pass through the carpal tunnel.

In Western medicine, carpal tunnel syndrome is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids to reduce swelling, with physiotherapy to stretch the ligaments and maintain mobility and muscle strength, with massage for relaxation and – as a last resort – with surgery, to cut the ligament in order to create more space for the confined structures in the carpal tunnel.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are many different reasons why a person develops symptoms like those of CTS. There are two organs that are commonly involved in many bone and muscle/sinew problems, the kidney and liver. The kidneys are said to produce marrow and control the strength of the bones. Therefore if the kidneys are strong and healthy, the bones will be also, whereas if the kidneys are weak the bones may also be weak and/or brittle. The liver controls the state of the sinews (muscle and tendons), so if the liver is strong and functioning properly, the sinews will be properly lubricated and nourished to have the capacity to contract and relax in a healthy manner.

When a problem arises in a joint, whether due to injury or overuse, the body is normally able to recover and heal the tissues. However, with injuries, what can commonly happen at the initial stage is that the qi-energy and blood get stuck and no longer circulate through the joint properly, causing pain. If the quality of blood is generally poor, which is common in a liver yin deficiency, the injured site will of course take longer to heal or even fail to heal completely, because the blood doesn’t provide the proper nourishment to heal the weakened area. When injury occurs in the case of overuse of a joint, the kidneys and liver are also involved, because the joint may sustain damage if it isn’t receiving a sufficient quality of nourishment and moistening of qi-energy and blood. 

With acupuncture we can reinforce the energy of kidneys and liver in order to strengthen the bones, muscles and tendons to allow them to heal properly and prevent future injury. We can also encourage circulation of the stuck energy and blood in order to break up the blockages in the injured area and promote healing. Acupuncture provides relief from pain and inflammation, but also encourages healing to the area and a healthier state of functioning, so that the carpal tunnel area is more able to withstand injury and sustain health during frequent use.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

14 10, 2010

Plantar Fasciitis / Foot Pain

Between the heel bone and the toes runs a strong fascia or ligament. It is made of connective tissue and supports the arch of the foot. The foot has two arches, a length arch and a width arch. The length arch is the one most commonly affected by plantar fasciitis. When the arch is round and strong the bones of the foot are in the right position and there is balance in the foot. When the arch flattens, a lot of strain on the bones and surrounding ligaments is created, resulting in pain, which can easily become excruciating, if not treated properly. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain.

Athletes, especially those running on hard surfaces, put a lot of strain on their arches and are prone to developing plantar fasciitis. People carrying extra weight and women who are pregnant also put extra stress on the arch, and the bones and ligaments often cannot recover from the continuous strain. Jobs that require much standing and walking can also contribute to plantar fasciitis, as can wearing shoes with inadequate support. In all cases, the fascia gets overstressed and becomes inflamed.

Western medicine treats this condition with rest and ice in the acute stage and later orthotics can be prescribed. Anti-inflammatory drugs can also help. Very important is the strengthening of the intrinsic muscles in the foot, which support the arch. These muscles have to be strong and wearing the wrong shoes can make them weak. In an acute stage, taping the foot to support the arch, in combination with muscle strengthening exercises, is a good approach to this problem. Stretching the plantar fasciia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles can also help with recovery.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine the sole of the foot is primarily the area of the Kidney meridian. It is where the Kidney meridian begins and finds its way up to the chest. Close to the fascia runs the Bladder meridian, so weakness in the Kidney and Bladder meridians can result in plantar fasciitis among other symptoms. Pain and inflammation in Chinese terms are stagnation of blood and qi-energy in the involved meridians, because of a malfunctioning of the corresponding organs.

Acupuncture treatment will focus on Kidney points, Bladder points, Galbladder points and the so called “ah shi” points, or local pain points. Allowing the foot muscles to rest and recover is also important- this can mean supporting them with properly fitting shoes, taking a break from exercise or training routine, or reducing the amount of time you spend on your feet while recovering. Plantar fasciitis can be difficult to treat simply because we rely on our feet so much during our day-to-day activities, and this creates a major hindrance to the healing process. Acupuncture, together with some rest, can offer relief in foot pain and improved function in a relatively short amount of time. The key to successful treatment is to address the problem early on, and to treat it fully so as to ensure that there are no lingering problems or that the condition does not recur.

Plantar fasciitis is another example of how acupuncture can successfully treat a common ailment, without using medication or surgery, but simply by harnessing the strength and energy that exists within our bodies.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

14 10, 2010

Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer's elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is similar to tennis elbow except that it occurs on the inside, rather than the outside, of the elbow. Golfer’s elbow involves pain and inflammation on the inner side of the elbow, where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of the elbow. Symptoms include pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow (which may spread into the forearm and wrist), stiffness in the elbow, weakness in the hands and wrists, and numbness or tingling in one or more fingers (usually the ring and little fingers). The pain may get worse when swinging a club or racket, squeezing or pitching a ball, shaking hands, turning a doorknob, flexing the wrist towards the forearm, or picking something up with the palm facing down.

Golfer's elbow is caused by damage to the muscles and tendons that control the wrist and fingers. The damage is typically caused by excess or repetitive stress, particularly forceful wrist and finger motions, but it can also be caused by a sudden force or blow to the elbow or wrist. Golfer's elbow is not limited to golfers- many activities can lead to golfer’s elbow including racket sports, throwing sports, weight training, and any activity that uses repetitive wrist, hand or arm movement such as typing, painting, or hammering.

Rest is the best medicine for golfer’s elbow. But golfer’s elbow that has not been allowed to heal properly or using the arm too strenuously before it has properly healed can lead to chronic elbow pain, a limited range or motion, or a lasting, fixed bend in the elbow. Analyzing what motions are causing the problem can help you to change your habits to reduce stress on the elbow. Exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the forearm can also help recovery and prevent re-injury.

Acupuncture can be a great option for dealing with golfer’s elbow and promoting proper healing. With golfer’s elbow, and all types of musculo-skeletal injuries, pain is caused by stagnation of qi-energy and blood. Acupuncture treatment focuses on removing the blockage and helping the energy and blood to flow again in order to remove pain and resolve the symptoms of an injury such as golfer’s elbow.

In addition, we look at what underlying factors have influenced the body’s health and weakened the elbow or made it vulnerable to injury. In Chinese medicine (TCM), almost every musculo-skeletal disorder also has some relevant underlying imbalance or contributing lifestyle factor, whether it be our occupation, the exercise or sports we choose, our nutrition and diet, or our genes. Understanding a person’s general health gives an acupuncturist insight into the internal imbalances that can further contribute to an injury. By also treating these underlying factors, we are actually strengthening the injured area and improving health, with the goal of preventing future reoccurrence.

In this way, acupuncture not only relieves symptoms of golfer’s elbow, but goes further to address the heart of the problem and promote proper healing, unlike other treatments which may serve only to relieve symptoms. Indeed, acupuncture can help you get back on the course and into the swing of things.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC.

7 10, 2010

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition where there is stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint leading to a limited range of motion in the joint. Frozen shoulder usually only affects one shoulder, but some people may eventually develop it in the other shoulder as well. This condition usually develops slowly, over a period of months. The shoulder starts out in the painful stage, where pain occurs with movement and the range of motion begins to become limited. Gradually there is a decrease in pain along with a drastic decrease in the range of motion of the shoulder.

Frozen shoulder can occur after an injury to the shoulder, a surgery or an arm fracture, or it may occur in people with other health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, thyroid problems, and Parkinson’s disease. Frozen shoulder is also more common over the age of 40. With frozen shoulder, the shoulder capsule (the connective tissue in our shoulder joint) becomes inflamed and stiff, which in turn can cause adhesions to develop between the joint’s surfaces and a decrease in the natural lubricating fluids in the joint, all of which contribute to the pain and reduced mobility. At night the shoulder might hurt when sleeping on the painful side and there can be a numbness or tingling in the arm and hand. With the limited use and mobility, strength is lost in the surrounding muscles.

The treatment in Western medicine consists of pain management by using painkillers, muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs. To regain mobility, physiotherapy or acupuncture may be recommended. A frozen shoulder that isn’t treated well can become a lengthy condition.

What can acupuncture do in these cases? There are several meridians (energy pathways) running over the shoulder or close to the shoulder. When the qi-energy and blood flow in these meridians is obstructed, problems begin to arise. This obstruction can be the result of an underlying problem in one or more of the related organs- in other words, if we have a constitutional weakness in our body due either to genetics or to the accumulated effects of our lifestyle, it can create the conditions for a problem to occur. Because there are many meridians that run over or near the shoulder, internal weaknesses or imbalances can create a weakness in the shoulder, leaving it prone to injury.

An acupuncturist investigates where exactly there is improper functioning within the patient and then will treat the underlying organ problems to get the blood and energy flowing again in the meridians. By increasing circulation and blood flow to the shoulder and reducing inflammation, we can relieve the symptoms of pain and increase mobility in the shoulder, setting the stage for further healing.

The significant difference between Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that Western medicine will treat the shoulder mainly locally, while in TCM we will treat the organ-related problems together with the meridians, addressing internal factors that contribute to the health and healing of the shoulder area. In fact we will treat the whole person and their imbalances, stimulating the body to return to its own natural equilibrium. By going to the core of the problem, relief through acupuncture can be long lasting if treated properly.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC.

11 05, 2010

Neck and Shoulder Pain

I had been suffering with a painful neck and shoulder for almost four years following a car accident. Also I was experiencing pain with my hand for a few weeks. Then I went for a few acupuncture treatments and I am happy to report that they have helped me greatly to have me free of pain.

During each treatment I was able to take a short "cat-nap", altogether an enjoyable experience. I must add here that the staff are very caring, and the treatment rooms very comfortable.   -Beatrice, Kelowna, BC

11 05, 2010

Sports Injuries

I am a local rock climber. I am 50 years old. I come for acupuncture first when I am injured. My body is in top form. I am also a vegetarian. I do not drink or smoke. I am expecting to climb hard into my 60's. Thanks for keeping me well.     -John, Kelowna, BC

16 03, 2009

Knee Pain

The knee is a complex joint that works much like the hinge of a door, allowing the joint to move backward and forward, but also has the ability to twist and rotate. This makes the knee joints especially vulnerable to damage, which is why they typically sustain more injuries than do other joints.

The knee joint is made up of the thighbone (femur), the two lower leg bones (the tibia and the fibula), and the patella, a bone that slides in a groove on the end of the femur. These bones are held together by four main ligaments, large bands of tissue that connect the bones together and help stabilize the knee joint during motion. Other structures in the knee include tendons (fibrous bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones and allow you to straighten or extend your leg), the meniscus (a C-shaped cartilage that cushions the knee joint), and bursae, (fluid-filled sacs that cushion the knee joint, allowing the ligaments and tendons to slide across it smoothly).

Normally, all of these structures work together smoothly. But injury and disease can disrupt this interplay, resulting in pain, muscle weakness and decreased function. A knee injury can affect any of the bones, cartilage and ligaments that make up the knee joint, as well as the ligaments, tendons, or fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that surround your knee joint.

The symptoms of knee problems can vary widely because of the number of structures involved and the range of injuries and diseases that can cause knee pain. Knee pain can be caused by an injury due to sports or a car accident, an awkward landing from a jump or fall, repetitive stress or overuse of the knee joint, sudden stopping or turning (such as in sports), hyperextension of the knee joint, degeneration of the knee joint from aging, and diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout.

Acupuncture can be an effective way to treat knee pain. First we must find out the quality of the pain we are dealing with in order to understand the cause. For example, if we have a feeling of heavy pain we will know that a damp pattern is involved. A damp pattern occurs when the body’s internal functions are disrupted, causing the body to retain excess moisture, kind of like a basement. People with this pattern will notice more predominant pain in damp weather. If the pain is heavy and burning then we have damp-heat, or if it is heavy and cold, we have damp-cold. Sharp pain would mean blood stasis. A common pain for older people is weak, achy knees, which would mean a kidney deficiency.

It is also very important to understand where the pain is located around the knee. There are 6 energetic meridians that travel through the knee. When we understand which meridian is being affected, it can help us to understand which organs are being affected to determine the most important and effective acupuncture points to use.

By understanding what lies behind the pain, we are able to go deeper into the problem to resolve the contributing causes. Acupuncture can be very effective to give the body the stimulation that it needs to resolve these internal imbalances so that healing can occur. It can help to relieve pain, as well as to promote healing and strengthen internal weakness that makes the knee joint vulnerable, making acupuncture a treatment option that is safe, effective, and free from negative side-effects.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.

17 12, 2008

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common complaint that we see often at our clinic. It is most commonly attributed to chronic ligament strain, spinal degeneration or osteoarthritis, or a prolapsed lumbar disc, problems that can be aggravated by a modern lifestyle that may involve a lot of sitting, or heavy strain from physical work or exercise.

Treatment often can include pain medication, chiropractic to realign the vertebrae, massage therapy to relax the muscles, and physiotherapy to correct posture and strengthen the muscles. Surgery may also be considered in severe cases.

Acupuncture can thankfully give very positive results to lower back pain sufferers, in part because Chinese medicine brings quite a different approach to the treatment of lower back pain, and one that is very effective. Back pain in Chinese medicine can be due to a number of factors that either make the back more susceptible to pain or lead to the pain itself, the most common being a weakness of the kidneys, causing a lack of nourishment of the lower back and spine.

The kidneys have a strong influence on the strength and nourishment of the tissue and bones of the lower back area so we always look at the strength of the kidneys when treating back pain, and what may be causing a kidney weakness. It is common for back pain to have a number of causes which create different kinds of pain. The type of pain that is experienced often tells the acupuncturist the underlying cause of the pain and helps point towards the proper diagnosis for treatment.

Invasion of cold and/or damp in the low back area can be a factor. It is usually due to the lower back being exposed during cold and damp weather, which allows the cold and dampness to invade and block the flow of energy and blood circulation.  This type of low back pain usually produces pain that is worse in the morning, better with exercise, better with heat, and worse when weather is cold and damp. 

Back pain due to stagnation of qi-energy and blood is usually caused by an acute sprain or, in chronic conditions, repeated sprain and underlying kidney weakness. Excessive physical work and over-lifting can often lead to this type of pain. Back pain due to qi-energy and blood stagnation is characterized by pain that is severe and stabbing, which gets worse with rest and better with light exercise. The area will be tender to the touch and there will be stiffness of the back muscles and inability to flex, extend or turn the waist.

Because the kidneys have an important function in the creation of energy, general overwork can also lead to chronic pain due to the constant drain on the kidneys’ energy, leading to an overall kidney weakness. Chronic back pain due to kidney weakness is usually dull and comes in bouts. It is better with rest and worse when a person is tired. This type of weakness creates a further vulnerability for an invasion of cold and damp or sprains. 

These are just a few examples of how Chinese Medicine diagnoses lower back pain. Acupuncture is then used to remove blockage in the lower back area which cause pain and weakness, and to stimulate and strengthen weak and depleted kidneys to aid their function of nourishing the tissues of the lower back. Treatment targets many internal factors, the goal being not only to alleviate the pain, but also to effectively resolve chronic conditions and strengthen the body to prevent future pain from arising.

Lower back pain is a common ailment that I see in my practice, and it generally responds very positively to acupuncture, whether it is a recent problem or a chronic problem. A person will usually first notice a reduction in the pain within a few acupuncture treatments, followed by an overall improvement of health, strength, and mobility in the lower back. With additional treatments, many cases of lower back pain can be resolved, allowing a person to resume their former lifestyle free of pain and negative symptoms.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.