Acute injuries to the lower back, knees and neck are quite common. People often injure their lower backs by lifting incorrectly, or from sitting for prolonged periods of time. Often there is pre-existing tightness through the muscle tissue that people are not paying attention too. When a muscle is tight, it lacks the ability to take additional strain as this requires flexibility. When someone then goes and lifts incorrectly, or twists too far, the muscle cannot adapt to the addition load and either tears, or pulls on its attachment points which damages the tendons and ligaments.
This tearing leads to pain and swelling. The degree of pain is often a reflection of the amount of damage. Swelling and heat/redness are also symptoms of tissue damage, reflecting the bodies immune response to try and repair the damaged site.
Note that this soreness is different to the type of pain often experienced post exercise. These smaller tears induce muscle growth and strengthening which can be of benefit to the body. If though the pain is more intense, you should consult your GP to ensure you haven’t done more damage.
A muscle spasm is often another form of acute pain. This occurs from muscle fatigue, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. People don’t realise that all of us don’t use our muscle correctly. There are natural imbalances which lead to some muscles working harder than others. The body runs on a ‘path of least resistance’ approach, so it will always recruit the stronger muscles first, but this doesn’t mean they are the right one. A classic example is our hip muscles are often overworked in comparison to our gluteal muscles. This leads to fatigue in the piriformis and other muscles, that can lead to spasms and fatigue when lifting or sitting too much. In ideal world we would be using our gluteal muscles more to help balance our hip muscles.
This spasm causes the muscle to twist itself into a knot that wraps around nerves and causes pain, sometimes it can be quite severe. This pain can be localised around the spasm or refer along the nerves pathway. This is how a muscle spasm in your shoulder blade can lead to a headache. By comparison to a muscle tear, this theoretically has an easier solution. The muscle needs to simply de-knot itself, and the tissue will quickly return to normal. These cases often respond more quickly to therapies than a muscle tear, for obvious reasons.
If experiencing a muscle spasm, hydration and stretching are two good self help options. Always, if you are unsure, consult your GP.
If you are curious about whether Acupuncture can help with your pain, please call the clinic on 9796 2388 to discuss whether I may be able to assist.
Chronic injuries are often more complicated. An acute condition is always an excessive condition, as it is an acute stagnation in Chinese Medicine. Chronic cases though tend to be a mix, as the injured area has become deficient over time causing the chronic pain, but tends to flare from time to time becoming excessive for a short while. So a mixture of Acupuncture techniques are used to nourish the deficiency to help provide long term relief, but also some dispersing techniques to alleviate the acute pain. Like with any problem the sooner you seek treatment the better. Many chronic patients I see in my clinic are trying Acupuncture as a last resort, so the problem has been ongoing for months or even years. Whilst this does make treatment more difficult it doesn’t mean we can’t achieve a good result, A Meta-Analysis performed in the Journal of Pain in 2017 reported: “Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal, headache, and osteoarthritis pain. Treatment effects of acupuncture persist over time and cannot be explained solely in terms of placebo effects. Referral for a course of acupuncture treatment is a reasonable option for a patient with chronic pain.“