Last month I focused on how acupuncture can help with knee pain. This month I’m heading up the kinetic chain to the hip joint. Hip osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the hip joint gets worn away, resulting in pain and stiffness around the joint.
Acupuncture can help in a number of ways:
1) Pain Management Chronic pain creates frequent strong signals in the brain. This unusual traffic can cause the perception of pain to malfunction. The brain cortex almost becomes imprinted with pain signals. Acupuncture can change activity in the brain (1) and change perception of pain.
2) Reducing Inflammation Adenosine is thought to be a powerful anti-inflammatory. Animal studies have shown that after an acupuncture session, concentrations of adenosine rise to 24 times baseline, accounting for its anti-inflammatory effects. (2)
3) Improving Movement Acupuncture has been shown in trials to reduce pain and increase movement in osteoarthritis (3).
The reduction in inflammation results in a joint with more aptitude for movement. Chronic joint pain also often affects surrounding tissue creating adhesions and constriction in nearby muscles. In many cases the surrounding muscles get tight and become painful. This tightness can put increased pressure on the joint, creating a negative feedback loop; more pain → muscles constrict → more joint pain → muscles constrict further.
4) Improving Circulation In Chinese Medicine health depends on the ability to generate and effectively move nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood around the body. Disease and ageing results from degradation of this vascular system. A study in Evidence Based Alternative medicine “Evaluation of the Effects of Acupuncture on Blood Flow in Humans…” (4) showed that acupuncture can improve localised blood flow.
How Does Acupuncture Treat Arthritic Hip Pain? The first step in treatment is assessment. Assessing movement, strength and pain in the hip and surrounding structures. Assessment then leads to treatment, individualised to the results of the assessment. Treating bursitis is a different treatment to treating tight and constricted gluteus muscles is a different treatment to nerve entrapment. That’s the wonderful thing about the flexibility and power of acupuncture – it can be used to uniquely treat dysfunctions of nerves, muscles or joints.
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