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Effective treatments for sport injuries

Published:Monday | July 20, 2015 | 12:00 AMTracey-Ann Brown

A sports injury is an injury to the bones or soft tissue (ligaments, muscles, tendons) from acute trauma or repetitive stress associated with athletic activity. Most sports injuries are minor soft tissue damages.

Rest plays a vital part in the speedy repair of these injuries, however, treatment may be needed if discomfort persists and mobility is hindered. In addition to the arsenal of painkillers, anti-inflammatory medications, liniments, physiotherapy and chiropractic adjustments, and acupuncture often offers relief for a variety of injuries.

Acupuncture points are often selected in the area of the injury along with other points which are on the meridian/pathway related to the injury. Thin needles are inserted and stimulated to improve qi and blood flow and relieve obstruction and pain at the injured site.

Since the acupuncture needles are very thin, there is often minimal to no discomfort during the procedure.

Common injuries include:

- Ankle sprain

- Groin pull

- Hamstring strain

- Shin splints

- Knee injury

- Tennis elbow

- Achilles tendon injury

- Golfer's elbow

- Rotator cuff injuries

- Muscle strains

- Shoulder injuries

- Tendon injuries

- Foot and heel injuries




First, the exact location of the pain is identified, whether on the inside (medial), outside (lateral) or back (posterior) of the knee along with the meridian/pathway on which the injury falls.

Primary knee acupuncture points include:

- ST.35 and Xiyan: located on either side of the patella/kneecap.

- K.10: found on the inner knee at the end of the crease formed when the knee is bent.

- BL.40: located at the centre of the back of the knee.




With hamstring injuries, the technique of sliding cupping is usually applied along with acupuncture. Cupping is an ancient Chinese practice in which a glass cup is applied to the skin, in order to create a suction of the skin and superficial muscle layer. It is used to relieve muscular tightness, stimulate the flow of qi and blood and break up obstructions and knots in the muscles. The cups are moved along the skin while the suction is active, in order to relieve muscular tightness and pain, break up stagnation/knots and improve qi and blood flow.




Electrical stimulation is usually applied to the needles in the immediate area of the pain. It involves the application of a mild charge to the tips of an inserted acupuncture needle in order to gently stimulate and increase the pain-relieving effect of the acupuncture points.




In cases where there is swelling in or near the joint, moxibustion is usually applied. Moxibustion is the process of applying the 'moxa' herb to the head of the acupuncture needle and allowing it to burn, in order to gently warm the acupuncture point to assist in pain relief and reduce swelling.




The number of acupuncture treatments needed will depend on the severity of the injury. Improvement is usually noticed within the first week of treatment, which may be done once or twice weekly, usually accompanying a prescription for rest.

- Dr Tracey-Ann Brown is an oriental medicine practitioner, herbalist and doctor of acupuncture. Email: