Natural Treatment for Musculoskeletal Injuries


Holistic Healthy Living Blog

by Rachelle Tetreault L,Ac


Musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) make up to 55% of all sustained injuries relating to sports trauma. Musculoskeletal injuries are also the most common of any workplace injury. This occurs usually due to overexertion or repetitive movements. These injuries affect muscle, tendons, joints, ligaments, and spinal column as well as spinal discs. The most common symptoms of injury are restrictive range of motion, loss of grip and or coordination, pain and discomfort which can vary from sharp pain to a dull ache, stiffness, tingling or numbness, and a need to take breaks from repetitive motions due to discomfort. Eastern Medicine by way of both acupuncture and herbal therapy helps facilitate the healing of Musculoskeletal injuries. This is done by improving the blood flow and oxygen supply to affected area. This is turn, increases cell growth advancing the healing process.

Throughout the years, Musculoskeletal injuries have been a common ailment which have been treated in my office. Despite the specific type of location of injury, expediting the healing process can be done by activating the blood circulation, removing blood stagnation and obstruction in the meridian flow of the injured area. Proper acupoint placement allows the onset of regeneration of both bone and soft tissue. The treatment also helps relieves pain naturally.

There are many herbal formulas used in practitioner prescribed formulas to help dispel blood stasis caused by injury and to further alleviate pain. Some treatments are geared more for reducing swelling, draining dampness from the body and absorbing seeping from wounds. These along with acupuncture therapy will help promote the healing and relieve pain by overall invigorating blood circulation which allows the body to naturally begin the healing process. Other herbal formulas are used specifically for reducing inflammation and clearing heat. Some have strong analgesic and antispasmodic effects which coincide with acupoint placement to ensure alleviation of discomfort from injury. The great part of Eastern Medicine is that it plays a role in promoting regeneration of the muscles, joints, bone, and tendons. The nourishment of both spleen and kidney allows strengthening of muscle and bone. This provides quicker recovery and to strengthen the body overall.

I have always recommended for physical therapy to be a part of the regimen to coincide with Eastern Medicine therapy. The movement of the body and proper taught techniques are essential to ensure there is not atrophy of the supportive musculoskeletal system. Tai chi can also be used as a rehabilitative form of exercise to further strengthen the muscles, joints, and tendons and to help prevent reinjury.

Nutrition plays a vital role when the body is in healing mode. Pineapple, rich in bromelain, is suggested to be eaten daily and on an empty stomach. This helps naturally to reduce swelling and inflammation. Adequate calcium is imperative with recovery with broken bones or fractures. Also, avoid preservatives due to the phosphorous levels which increase bone loss. Warm bone broths, steamed foods, adequate protein, are best choices and avoid cold food and drinks which can create stagnation in the body during the healing process.

Acute knee and ankle injuries are very prevalent. This often results in both sprain or strain which results in painful joints with swelling and inflammation. The therapeutic goals would be to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and swelling. The combination of both acupuncture and herbal therapy can help accomplish these goals by again activating blood circulation, removing blood stasis, clearing heat or inflammation and draining dampness from the area. A major component of MSIs is the atrophy and wasting of both muscles, tendons, and ligaments. There is often cartilage damage with joint injury. Eastern Medicine goals of treatment are to increase the chondroprotective effect to protect cartilage. Strengthening of muscle, tendon, ligaments, and bone are accomplished by nourishing blood, yin, and improving blood circulation.

Food therapy for connective tissue like knee injuries involving the meniscus would be sea cucumber and gelatin. Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate are supplements of choice. Gentle exercises are recommended to help prevent further atrophy and muscle wasting. For spasms and cramps, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables high in potassium like kiwi, bananas, and oranges and consume with warm water for best absorption.

Shoulder injuries often involving rotator cuff tears, tendonitis, periarthritis, and even frozen shoulder are also very commonly seen and treated with Eastern Medicine. Other frequent injuries often treated successfully include carpal tunnel and both medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). The main goals of therapy are still to reduce pain and inflammation. There is often a component of spasms and cramps which may be the focus of treatment as well.  Each injury is treated individually based off of individual need and presentation.

Nutrition therapy would include foods rich in vitamin B complex and magnesium. These are vital to help relax the muscles and improve nerve health. Food choices should consist of whole grains, nuts, dark leafy greens, and seafood. Also, food rich in potassium and calcium are also beneficial.

Reinjury is the major culprit to watch for during the healing process. Avoid exercises with high risk of injury or any movement which recreates sharp pain. Cold packs can be used the first 24 hours of injury but then heat is what will truly facilitate long-term healing whereas cold stagnates and impedes the blood flow. Hot baths help relax both muscles and joints. Daily stretching is essential. Proper sleep positions play a key role as well. Finally, adequate sleep and rest is necessary for a full recovery. Proper balance of both work and rest is critical. Please call today to start your journey for healing!  772-353-1397.