Acupuncture can effectively treat tender or painful muscles!!
As the diagram shows, acupuncture can essentially reverse myofascial trigger points. As a review of the previous blog, the current understanding is that persistently tight muscle fibers, known as taut bands, come about from stress, injury or damage. The taut bands are perpetuated by the sympathetic “fight or flight” response from ongoing stressors in the environment. Because of the tightness, blood flow is compromised in the muscle causing accumulation of the waste products. Along with the release of potent inflammatory mediators, there is a vicious cycle of poor local circulation and accumulation of waste products causing what is called an energy crisis in the muscle. This crisis leads to deterioration of muscle membrane integrity and even abnormalities in the mitochondria itself!! (1) At the level of the neuromuscular junction, there is perpetuation of the Acetylcholine at the junction that can contribute to persistent tightening of the muscle fibers.
Acupuncture Reverses these phenomena by simply first releasing the taut band from its tight configuration. Needling allows for depletion of available acetylcholine stores. Simultaneously, local inflammatory mediators increase blood flow to the areas or ischemia and leading to myofascial trigger “release” or “fasciculations” in the muscle. Further needling can cause localized bleeding which further nourishes the areas of ischemia and hence kickstart the repair process.
Recent meta-analysis of the trigger point needling shows excellent treatment for the condition (2). We will review the article at length at future blog posts so stay tuned!!
1. Dommerholt, J. Bron, C. Franssen, J. Myofascial trigger points: An Evidence –Informed Review The Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy Vol. 14 No. 4 (2006), 203 – 221
2. Kietrys, D. Palombaro, K. et. al. Effectiveness of Dry Needling for upper – quarter Myofascial Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. J of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 2013 September 43:9: 620 – 635