There are a number of non-surgical and non-drug therapies available for helping those with injuries and pain. Acupuncture and Physical Therapy happen to be two of them that work well alone, but work even better when combined in a comprehensive treatment strategy.
Physical Therapy (PT) is a widely used to help increase mobility, function, and strength, and decrease pain in the body. Ice, heat, ultrasound and manual manipulation are some of these techniques. Sometimes exercise is taught and assigned for home use. Most of us think of Physical Therapy for orthopedic uses, but Physical Therapists can also specialize in pediatric, geriatric, neurological/stroke recovery or cardio/pulmonary therapies.
Acupuncture is the insertion of small hair-like needles into specific, defined points on the surface of the body to create a physiological change in the level of function of the body. It is most commonly thought of as being used for orthopedic and pain complaints, but is highly effective as well in treating organ issues, digestion, sleep, fertility, headache, anxiety (just to name a few of its many uses).
Combining Acupuncture and Physical Therapy
Sometimes as patients are undergoing acupuncture treatments at our clinic for a pain problem, their doctor will want them to do Physical Therapy. We wholeheartedly advise them to go ahead and get the prescribed Physical Therapy sessions AS WELL AS continuing to get their Acupuncture. Why? The two therapies work extremely well together.
How does Physical Therapy fit into Eastern Medicine?
Acupuncture is only one of eight healing modalities that were developed and employed in ancient China. The other modalities, or branches as they were called, include herbal formulas, food/dietary cures, massage/acupressure, movement (Tai Chi, Qi Gong), body surface techniques – moxibustion, gua sha, or cupping, breathwork (Qi Gong, meditation), environmental arrangement(Feng Shui). Many of the techniques employed in modern Physical Therapy would fall under the categories of massage/acupressure/bodywork, body surface techniques, and movement – so it is not so far fetched that it works so beautifully together with Acupuncture.
Recovery time: Acupuncture vs. Physical Therapy
There are some great medical studies being done documenting how well these two therapies work together to facilitate and speed up healing in patients. Tension neck syndrome, for example, responds well to either Acupuncture (which showed greater pain reduction) or PT (which showed greater range of movement or ROM recovery) alone. When the two were combined, both aspects of healing recovered further and faster than with either stand-alone therapy.
The same was true in a study of frozen shoulder patients. The subjects had a 53% gain in performance recovery with combined Acupuncture and Physical Therapy versus an average 30% gain with Physical Therapy alone. Post-stroke patients show similar type results in recovering musculo-skeletal function, reducing pain and increasing their quality of life with the combined therapies.
There’s an interesting article in the Washington Post from December 4, 2016 written by a doctor about his recovery from knee surgery. In it, he related the amount of pain, swelling and discomfort that he experienced in post-surgery PT and how adding Acupuncture helped speed his recovery and reduce his discomfort.
How our patients have benefited from a combination treatment
We have experienced similar stories to these in our clinic with numerous patients being treated for joint injury, chronic back pain, arthritic pain and loss of movement, post joint replacement recovery and more. In each of these cases, patients who continued with regular Acupuncture treatments and Physical Therapy sessions saw marked improvement in the speed and ease of their recovery.
Anyone suffering from chronic pain, new injuries, or considering arthroscopic or joint replacement surgery should seriously consider adding Acupuncture to the Physical Therapy that their doctors are likely to recommend. Together, these therapies beautifully combine the ancient with the modern to greatly benefit the health of those who are willing to try them out.
We invite you to contact us to find out for yourself how this combination of therapies can benefit you in creating better health and enjoyment in your life.
If you’d like to try acupuncture, check out our current special: Acupuncture Specials