Good Advice For Tendonitis Involves Patience And Participation

Tendonitis Pain Relief In Bellmore, NY - Ni Nan Healing Art Center

What do playing tennis, golf, running, shoveling, painting, raking, and throwing all have in common? Yes, they’re all physical activities. However, there’s more; when done too much or with poor form, these are all activities that could trigger tendinitis.

You may have heard of tendinitis (also spelled tendonitis), and have some vague notion that it’s painful and takes a long time to heal. Your tendons are tough bands of connective tissue that attach your muscles to bones. Your tendons are thick and fibrous, and made to withstand heavy loads. Ligaments are very similar to tendons in structure, except that ligaments connect bones to other bones.

Tendinitis occurs when a tendon has become inflamed from trauma, overuse or repetitive stress. Over time, if the tendon continues to be aggravated, the fibers may degenerate and become distorted and develop micro tears. This condition is called tendinosis, and tends to be more chronic and involve less inflammation than tendinitis.

Tendinitis occurs most commonly at the base of your thumb, elbow, shoulder, knee, hip, and Achilles tendon. Tendinitis can be a frustrating condition because it can take up to six months or more to heal. It may take up to a year or more if your tendinitis progresses to chronic tendinosis, and even longer if scar tissue develops as the result micro tears.

Standard treatment for tendinitis are to rest the affected tendon, ice, the use of NSAIDs for pain and inflammation, and physical therapy. For severe pain or chronic cases that aren’t healing, your doctor may recommend steroid injections into the tendon to decrease inflammation. However, if your tendinitis has progressed into chronic tendinosis, steroid injections may not be recommended, as the tendon fibers are damaged, but not necessarily inflamed. In that case, injecting steroids may only serve to aggravate and further damage the already injured tendon.

Because tendinitis is slow to heal despite the best of care, many people turn to acupuncture for help. Research on the effectiveness of acupuncture for specific tendon problems is promising, and scientists have found that acupuncture or acupuncture plus electrical stimulation is more helpful than just rest alone.

There are a number of ways to explain why acupuncture is a valuable treatment for tendonitis problems. Acupuncture helps relieve the pain associated with tendinitis by releasing the chemical adenosine, which suppresses the transmission of pain signals traveling to your brain. In addition, acupuncture affects your brain chemistry to boost the circulation of specific neurotransmitters that act as your body’s own opioid system. Acupuncture reduces inflammation in the area of injury, where the needles have been placed, by increasing the circulation of white blood cells that help to clear away inflammation, and by increasing circulation overall.

In addition, your tendons are connective tissue made of collagen. When acupuncture needles are placed in or near the tendons, it creates tiny wounds, which as they heal, promote an increase in collagen and elastin; the very building blocks of your injured tendon.

Good advice for tendon problems involves patience and participation. Patience comes from understanding that it often takes months for tendinitis or tendinosis to heal completely. Participation means taking care of your injured tendon by resting it, avoiding aggravating activities, and seeking out appropriate treatments, including acupuncture.

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5 Ways That Acupuncture Can Relieve TMJ Pain

TMJ Pain Relief In Bellmore, NY - Ni Nan Healing Art Center

What Is TMJ?

If you wake up with sore teeth, jaw or neck pain, or if your jaw pops or clicks, you may have TMJ issues. Your TMJ, or temporomandibular joint is the small joint located in front of your ears and connects your lower jaw to your skull. Whenever you talk, eat, or open your mouth for any other reason, you’re engaging this workhorse of a joint.

Unfortunately, your TMJ can become injured, inflamed, or misaligned, causing you a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common are facial pain, pain in the joint, neck and shoulder pain, jaw clenching, sensitive teeth, and frequent headaches, especially in the morning. TMJ problems can arise from a number of causes, such as a traumatic injury to your jaw, whiplash, arthritis, or your teeth being misaligned. However, the most common source of TMJ problems comes from grinding or clenching your teeth.

Tooth grinding or clenching is an unconscious reaction to stress. Clenching can occur during the day, but it most frequently happens at night, and is the reason why so many people are unaware that they’re clenching their teeth. It’s only after they have woken with a headache, sore facial muscles, or sensitive teeth that they realize that something occurred while they were asleep. While stress may be the cause of clenching, your masseter muscle provides the means. Your masseter muscle is a tiny but powerful muscle found at the lower corner of your jaw, and controls the action of your TMJ. When you become stressed, this muscle becomes tight causing you to clench or grind your teeth.

If you have TMJ issues, you may want to check in with your dentist. Your dentist can check and adjust your bite (how your teeth fit together) and make you a bite guard to protect your teeth at nighttime. They may also offer you some commonsense suggestions, such as avoiding chewing gum, dense chewy foods, and foods that require you to open wide.

Acupuncture may also be a good place to start if your TMJ is causing symptoms. Many patients have found that working with an acupuncturist to treat their TMJ is effective for a variety of reasons. Among them:

  1. Acupuncture relieves pain. Researchers have found that acupuncture treatments bump up the circulation of endorphins in your brain, which are neurotransmitters that relieve pain and improve your sense of well-being.

  2. This release of endorphins is also effective for stress, which is frequently an underlying cause of TMJ issues associated with tooth clenching and grinding.

  3. Acupuncture decreases inflammation. Where the needles are placed locally, acupuncture increases the circulation of inflammation-fighting white blood cells. In addition, there are several acupuncture points in and around your TMJ, jaw, and masseter muscle, which are good targets for inflammation relief.

  4. Your circulation is increased through acupuncture, which brings blood and nutrients to the joint and surrounding areas, which supports the healing process.

  5. Acupuncture also helps to loosen tight muscles, which is especially important when it comes to tooth clenching and grinding.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to live your life with the symptoms and pain associated with TMJ issues. Doing what it takes to reduce your stress, checking in with your dentist, and working with a skilled practitioner of acupuncture is a good way to get the relief you need.

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Could Acupuncture be the Answer for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Relief In Bellmore, NY - Ni Nan Healing Art Center

Whenever I see a bank teller or cashier wearing a wrist brace, my first thought is that they’re suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. The nature of their work is repetitious and can be hard on their wrists and hands, and carpal tunnel syndrome is a common result.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition in which your median nerve becomes entrapped. This nerve runs throughout your arm, but near your wrist, it runs through what’s called the carpal tunnel, which is a narrow passageway at the base of your hand and wrist. When the tendons, ligaments, or tissue becomes irritated and swollen, the nerve becomes squeezed, causing symptoms not only in your wrist, but also in your hand.

The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are numbness and tingling in the palm of your affected hand, which may extend to the thumb, index, and middle finger. People with CTS also describe burning, itching, pain, weakness, and in severe cases inability to use the affected hand and fingers. As with most nerve-related conditions, the symptoms tend to be worse during the night. In fact, many people with CTS describe early symptoms as a sensation of pins and needles or numbness that wake them up at night.

While carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by a trauma, such as a broken bone or sprained wrist, the most common cause of this condition is performing repetitive motions. Twisting and turning your hand, working at a cash register or computer, or the use of hand tools are common culprits. However, being pregnant, having diabetes, an underactive thyroid, an overactive pituitary, or rheumatoid arthritis can also raise your risk for CTS.

How Can It Be Treated?

Traditional treatments for CTS include splinting the wrist (especially at night), avoiding overuse activities, physical therapy, Vitamin B6 supplementation, and over-the-counter or prescription medications for pain and inflammation. In some cases surgery is an option, in which the carpal tunnel is opened up to make more space for the nerve.

Acupuncture can also be an appropriate treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. In a 2017 study reported by the NIH (National Institutes of Health), researchers found that acupuncture produced measurable improvements in symptoms that the patients were experiencing. The results showed that acupuncture treatments exerted effects both locally, as well as in the pain center of the brain.

In Chinese medicine, carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed as something called a Bi (pronounced Bee) syndrome, which means that there’s some kind of obstruction in the affected joint. This simply means that the circulation of blood and the transmission of nerve impulses are blocked. An acupuncturist would further diagnose your CTS by the state of your overall health and the characteristics of your symptoms. For example, you may have more pain than numbness, your symptoms may be aggravated by changes in the weather, or they may come and go. Your CTS may feel better with the application of heat, pressure, ice, or being elevated. All of these are clues as to how to best treat your particular presentation of CTS.

In Chinese medicine, acupuncture is the first line of treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Your practitioner may use electro-acupuncture, which provides a painless electrical current to the needles to enhance effectiveness. They may also prescribe an herbal formula, perform massage-like Tui Na, or recommend some at home rest or exercises as a part of your treatment plan. Their strategy for your treatment and the healing tools that they use will depend on the nature of your symptoms and your overall health.

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