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Can acupuncture help muscle tension

Q  I have been suffering with muscle tension for  several years, which has been made worse by injury.   I damaged my glutes about 10 years ago and have since had a few injuries to my sacral area and suffer weakness in this area. I have been told I have muscle imbalances which ultimately affect my whole body.  I  am currently seeing one in a long line of physios as well as having regular massage. However,  it all seems to be having little effect these days and my day to day existence seems to revolve around damage limitation. Do you think acupuncture would be of any use to me?

A: It certainly couldn't do any harm to try traditional acupuncture. We choose out words carefully, though; when we say traditional acupuncture we mean acupuncture based on an understanding of the principles of Chinese medicine. There is a great deal of acupuncture being offered these days by people whose focus is primarily musculo-skeletal, such as physios, osteopaths and chiropractors, and while we have no doubt that they often do very good treatment as an adjunct to their primary discipline, there are times when this kind of 'point and shoot' approach will not be enough. The problem from our perspective, of course, is that when this doesn't work people say 'acupuncture didn't work', to which we respond 'only a very reduced form of it.'
 
Chinese medicine looks at the body as a dynamic structure of energy, called 'qi' in Chinese thought, whose flow, rhythms and balances are integral to good health and well-being as well as to good recovery from the injuries which everyone experiences from time to time. In cases like yours this means two things. First, it is possible that there has been disruption to the flow of energy locally which, by the use of both local and distal treatment, a practitioner might be able to correct. If there is a local weakness or blockage, most treatments are only going to be partially successful in restoring function.
 
Second, there are often cases where an injury manifests as an acute problem on top of a more chronic weakness which has not generated any symptoms as yet, and also may manifest against a backdrop where the entire body is running below par. The problem with  acute then chronic problems is that they prevent the system as a whole from recovering and lock the problem in for a long time.
 
Acupuncture treatment may be able to address both of these issues, and a visit to a BAcC member local to you for a brief face to face assessment may be able to establish very quickly whether the practitioner thought that there was something they could do to help. As well as acupuncture treatment, you may also find that some of the gentler forms of osteopathy, especially cranial osteopathy, may be of benefit. The sacral area is one where damage cam impact on the whole system in some quite profound ways, and if the physical structure has been compromised, then no amount of work on the surrounding musculature is going to solve the problem.
 
However, we think that acupuncture treatment is worth trying first, and may well help you to break free of the cycle of damage limitation in which you appear to become trapped. We know how depressing this can become after a while, and how people can begin to lose hope in the fact that things will ever change. We have seen enough cases of long-term chronic cases resolving, if not wholly, at least enough to make a radical change, to believe that acupuncture treatment would be well worth trying.   
 

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