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Acupuncture 101

Many people have questions or myths about acupuncture.  Acupuncture derives from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that started over 2000 years ago during the Shang Dynasty.  The primary basis of acupuncture is to achieve a complete balance of the body or in Western Medicine called homeostasis.  In TCM the body is comprised of multiple meridians where energy flows throughout the body and on each meridian there are many points where energy could be blocked.  Using these basic principles of acupuncture, there are many issues, symptoms, aches and pains that can be helped tremendously with this technique.  Acupuncture uses sterile stainless steel needles inserted into specific acupoints along each meridian to help clear energy blockages, increase blood flow, break up scar adhesions, release muscle spasms and reduce inflammation.

In our practice, we have been integrating acupuncture with physical therapy in order to treat a multitude of ailments and allow patients to improve with recovery as well as overall wellbeing.  We encounter many different issues that people come seek help with; ranging from spinal conditions, sprains/strains, headaches, vertigo to post op surgery.

One common cause or side effect of various injuries can be scar tissue formation in the body.  When an injury occurs to an area either from a surgery or an internal sprain or strain, scar tissue builds in the area to help rebuild the torn fibers.  The problem with this is that in healthy tissue the fibers run parallel and have good elasticity or mobility, therefore, when scar tissue is formed a web of fibers is constructed that have minimal elastic properties which leads to more pain, tightness and joint issues.  Using acupuncture with specific needling techniques can help break up these fibers to help promote collagen production and increase elasticity.  For example, one patient came to me that was post op total knee replacement with significant loss of motion.  Traditional physical therapy was used to increase motion, but was not working as well.  Acupuncture was used around the scar tissue with other points on specific meridians followed by traditional physical therapy techniques and the results were amazing.  The patient had normal range of motion within 4-6 visits of the acupuncture with therapy.

In physical therapy, many patients come in with muscle spasms that can be the root of pain in many areas of the body.  One technique that acupuncture encompasses is dry needling.  This is a technique where a needle is inserted into the specific muscle spasms where it activates the neuromuscular junction, which will reset the muscle spindle and overall calming the muscle spasm.  Using this technique with other acupoints on a specific meridian to help clear inflammation and bring in more blood flow into the area.  A combination of acupuncture with soft tissue mobilization, stretching and strengthening can take the patient to the next level to help them recover and ultimately prevent future injuries.

Acupuncture can also help with many internal issues such as digestive problems, pregnancy, blocked sinuses, and smoking cessation to name a few.  It can be a great addition to Western medicine for a more holistic approach.

Michael Demetriades DPT CAP received his doctorate degree from Quinnipiac University.  As a therapist at Amity Physical Therapy he is also certified as an Acupuncture Practitioner.  He has experience working with all ages and injuries, especially injuries plaguing the modern athlete.  Amity Physical Therapy was founded twelve years ago by Michael Dow MSPT and CEO/Clinical Director.  The practice has three offices:  Woodbridge, Hamden and Branford.  Michael Demetriades can be reached in Branford at 203-433-4683 or visit amitypt.com.

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