Pain management and sports injuries are some of the most common conditions we see at East to West Wellness center. We see various injuries ranging in severity, we recently saw a patient who was a young athlete and had an acute sprain in her knee. It was determined that this was most likely a sprain to the medial collateral ligament (MCL).

A sprain occurs when there is a direct trauma of excessive for abnormal movement to a joint and the ligamental structures that help to hold the joint in place are damaged. The ligament will become inflamed and in severe case may even be completely torn or ruptured. A sprain is marked by rapid swelling, pain and limitation with particular ranges of motion, bruising and a sensation of heat in the area where the sprain occurred. The knee is the most common location where a sprain can occur in the body.

Most sprains heal on their own but this could be a long process as the ligaments are avascular meaning they don’t have their own blood supply which in turn means increased healing time. The most common treatment for sprains are usually elevation, stabilization of the joint and applying ice. Without acupuncture sprains can take anywhere from two weeks to two months to heal. Acupuncture can significantly decrease the recovery time of the average sprain.

This patient came in with her acute knee injury and within 3 three sessions we were able to reduce her pain by 70%, decrease local swelling and restore majority of her range of motion in the knee. Acupuncture is incredibly effective at reducing inflammation by needling around the knee joint near the effected ligament, this increases blood flow and encourages the release of neuropeptides that promote healing and pain relief. For this patient we also used electro- stimulation to increase the strength of the treatment encouraging even faster healing. We also used moxibustion – a local heat therapy that is done by burning an herb called mugwort. Mugwort has natural anti-inflammatory properties and oils released from the burning of the herb are able to penetrate the skin to increase circulation of oxygenated blood to damaged connective tissues and decrease swelling.

-Anna Craddock, Student of Acupuncture

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