Acupuncture Physical Medicine (APM) is a type acupuncture which is similar to classical meridian acupuncture combined with modern physical medicine techniques giving the patient who suffers from chronic or acute pain reliable and fast relief. This style of acupuncture is similar to modern day “Trigger Point injections.”
What is a trigger point?
A trigger point is a sensitive or irritable spot on the body that can be a main or associated source of pain conditions. Most often these spots are found in muscle and its lining (fascia) and are called “myofascial” trigger points. They can also be located in skin, ligament, and tendon tissue. Trigger points can be causes for bands of pain radiating a long distance from the actual trigger point. This “referred pain,” can even mimic pinched nerves. Trigger points can arise as a result of strain or repetitive use injuries, stress and muscle tension conditions, or specific disorders such herniated discs, pinched nerves, fractures, and surgical incision healing sites, to name only a few.
Trigger point therapy is used to treat painful areas of muscle. There are many types of trigger point therapies such as massage therapy, deep medical massage, acupuncture therapy, or some people use trigger point injections. They are all good therapies.
Normal muscle contracts and relaxes when it is active. A trigger point is a knot or tight, ropy band of muscle that forms when muscle fails to relax. The knot often can be felt under the skin and may twitch involuntarily when touched (called a jump sign). The trigger point can trap or irritate surrounding nerves and cause referred pain – pain felt in another part of the body. Scar tissue, loss of range of motion, and weakness may develop over time.
How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture Physical Medicine (APM) is a type of acupuncture that draws from both classical acupuncture and modern trigger point therapy (i.e., trigger point injections) to treat pain syndromes and the underlying root cause of the problem. The treatment concentrates on releasing the pain condition relatively fast with acupuncture needles (no injection) while treating the underlying cause so the pain does not occur again. While other therapies only address the symptoms and never treat the cause, the pain always returns. As part of the treatment, the patient may get more energy, feel more relaxed, and feel more clear or centered as a result of the treatment. The treatment is individualized on a case by case basis. A thorough patient history is key to resolving the pain referral pattern (a.k.a. the holding pattern).
APM enables increased oxygenation and blood flow to the muscles. This allows them to work more efficiently and decreases pain. Additional acupuncture points are added to balance the flow of qi (or chi) in the meridians so there is no block in the flow of circulation, this supports the treatment. Root acupuncture points to strengthen the body as a whole are added as well to make sure the pain pattern does not return.
APM can be very good in treating migraine headaches as well. Acupuncture Physical Medicine is used to alleviate chronic pain involving tissue that surrounds muscle. Many muscle groups, especially the arms, legs, lower back, and neck are treated with this method. APM can also be used to treat Fibromyalgia and tension headaches.
What to expect during and after treatment
The treatment is done in an office setting and is relatively painless. You won’t feel the needle going in. After the needle is inserted, it is manipulated with a gentle and special technique which causes the trigger point to twitch or jump. This twitching of the muscle is the sign that the muscle spindle is resetting back to its’ original resting length and restoring the elasticity of the muscle itself. The treatment itself lasts up to seven days. One should consider receiving approximately 4 – 6 treatments to really take effect and stop the pain syndrome.
- Chronic headaches
- Neck pain
- Sports injuries
- Pain in low back
- Pain in shoulders
- Pain behind your eyes
- Pain behind your ears
- Leg pain
- Hip pain
- Pins & needles in hands & feet