So, does acupuncture help with muscle spasms?
The answer is yes, acupuncture is very beneficial when it comes to muscle spasms, and it alleviates every other symptom that comes with it, such as pain.
The treatment has been used for years now, and as long it is administered by a qualified physician, then it is safe and good enough for you. However, speak to your doctor first to ensure that it is right for you.
Most probably, you had a long flight, and you are trying to stretch your fatigue away or simply tried to lift your heavy shopping and put it in your truck. Someone else only turned a neck or bent down to pick something, and these are things we all do in normal daily life.
However, this time around, a very sore and uncontrollable pain grips on specific or different parts of your body. This experience is called muscle spasm, and everyone has had it at least once in their life.
Therefore, muscle spasm is a painful involuntary, and uncontrollable contraction of muscles. It is a natural mechanism that your body uses as a protective response to inflammation or injury of nerves around the muscles or the muscles themselves.
In most cases, something may have gone wrong on the area affected and to prevent further injury from occurring, and a muscle spasm happens to limit motion at that particular time.
Usually, these contractions should not cause any alarm for you unless the pain is severe and has prolonged for several days, whereby a doctor should examine you. Common parts that get affected by muscle spasms include the back, neck, feet, lower legs, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, arms, and hands.
The main symptom of muscle spasm is a nasty pain on any of the muscles named above, which is usually accompanied by a very strong muscle tightening. Usually, the experience may occur in cycles, lasting some few seconds or minutes, but in severe and rare cases, it can take hours.
Causes of Muscle Spasms
1. Overused Muscles
Muscle spasm will happen when your muscles and tissues around the affected area are tired, overused, held in one place for long, overstretched, strained, or previously injured. In this case, the muscle runs out of supporting fluids and energy to continue, leading to involuntary contraction.
2. Dehydration and Electrolytes Depletion
Your muscle cells require you to remain hydrated at all times and continuous supply of minerals in your body. Therefore, water, potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and glucose for energy are essential.
They ensure that the proteins secreted in them develop an organized contraction of the muscles. If your body lacks any of these elements, your muscles become irritable and hence the spasm.
3. Uncontrolled Movements
Uncontrolled movements or inability to maintain a normal posture can cause a muscle spasm, and this has a special name — dystonia. It is a movement disorder whereby the affected person cannot control the body posture or activities of the body part involved.
For instance, a neck muscle spasm can cause your head to turn from one side to another involuntarily — torticollis.
While muscle spasms can occur to anyone regardless of their daily activities, some people are prone to experience them more.
Mostly it depends on your occupation, medical history, or your physical activities. That said, the following groups of people have a high possibility of experiencing muscle spasms more frequently.
- People with peripheral artery illnesses such as stroke, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, or high cholesterol. They tend to develop leg crumps commonly at night.
- Athletes and people involved in extreme exercise — this may sound contradictory because exercising helps in relaxing nerves and therefore reduced muscle spasms. However, if the person involved is not taking enough water and is not consistent, they may suffer spasms more frequently — this for both elite and acute athletes.
- People who work in factories, the construction sector, or in hot surroundings. The main reason for this is that they can easily become dehydrated, and their muscles are getting overused at work.
- People who already have neurological disorders.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Muscle Spasm
Diagnosis of muscle spasms can be made through evaluation of medical history, physical examination, or, in extreme cases, a blood test, angiography, and ultrasound may be necessary.
Once it is complete and the cause is found, the physician can recommend a treatment plan based on the severity of the situation. The main treatment option for muscle spasm is to prevent it in the first place, but once it is diagnosed, acupuncture is known to among the best treatment.
Muscle spasms are usually associated with dehydration and electrolyte deficiency. Therefore take a lot of water every day to keep your body hydrated regardless of your occupation or surroundings.
Victims of muscle spasms should test their electrolyte levels to ensure they are sufficient in the body. In case of a deficiency, they must take food rich in these minerals or go for supplements.
For those working in a challenging work environment or involved in extreme physical activities, you need to stretch and warm up before getting started. This means that before you start mowing, raking, or heavy lifting, stretch to get your muscles ready for the job.
In some cases, muscle spasms can be treated using pain-relief medications and relaxants. However, this depends on the underlying cause of the spasm.
Acupuncture is a body rejuvenating treatment that involves inserting thin needles through the skin on specific points of the body known as acupoint.
It is a traditional Chinese medicine for relieving pain. However, acupuncture is also used to improve the overall wellness of a person, which is why most physicians recommend it for stress management.
Acupuncture has been used for many years, especially in Asia and Europe. Today, it has become popular in the United States and other parts of the world.
When a physician inserts the needles on these specific points, energy in your body is believed to flow and re-balance, causing relief from irritation and pain in the affected area.
Others say that the acupoints needled tend to stimulate nerves, connective tissues, and muscles, leading to gradual enhancement of natural pain relievers in the body.
How Do You Prepare for Acupuncture Treatment?
The first preparation you need for this treatment is consulting your physician if the treatment is right for you or not. You do not want to cause more harm than good to your body. If he says that you are fit for it, then start planning.
Now, the second-best preparation you can do for your acupuncture treatment is choosing the most qualified acupuncturist. Therefore;
- Ask for recommendations from your doctor, relatives, friends, or any other person you trust.
- Evaluate the practitioner’s credentials and experience to ensure that they are qualified to administer it.
- Talk to the practitioner by asking reliable questions relating to the treatment, including expected outcomes, risks involved, and price.
- Ask about insurance coverage to avoid getting disappointed, especially if you do not have enough cash to pay for acupuncture.
The Treatment: What to Expect
When the acupuncturist inserts the thin needles on the acupoints, expect to feel some discomfort — not too much, though. Most people only complain about this discomfort but not the pain, mainly because of the thinness of the needles.
Your acupuncturist will treat you based on the symptoms you have, behaviors, lifestyle, and time span since you started experiencing muscle spasms or pain. Both evaluation and treatment may take about one hour but follow up appointment usually takes half an hour or so.
For the best results, you can go for one or two acupuncture treatments in a week. However, if your muscle spasms and twitches are severe, 5 to 8 treatments a week would help.
Acupuncture can be done on all parts of the body because aqua points are all over. The good thing is that since the needles are quite thin, you might not even feel them getting inserted.
The acupuncturist will use about 5 to 20 needles for a typical treatment, and the number depends on the area being treated. Like said earlier, while you won’t experience pain, you will feel some discomfort and mild aching sensation, especially when the needles reach the right depth.
After inserting the needles, the practitioner will manipulate them through gentle moves and twirls or apply mild electrical impulses or heat. This is done to improve its efficiency by rejuvenating the nerves and muscles all around.
The patient is supposed to lie still and relaxed for about 15 to 20 minutes before the needles can be removed. During the removal of the needles, no pain or discomfort is expected.
Once the procedure is complete, the patient feels both relaxed and energized. Your muscle spasms, tightening, and pain will start decreasing gradually and eventually will go away as you continue with acupuncture treatment.
However, if your spasm symptoms do not improve at all after a few weeks of acupuncture treatment, then this might not be the right treatment for you. Finally, while it may be difficult to measure the results of acupuncture, the procedure is known to control numerous painful conditions, including muscle spasms.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Yes, acupuncture is considered to be a safe treatment for pain and muscle spasms, among other disorders. However, it is only completely safe if a qualified medical practitioner administers it. The government ensures that acupuncture is done in the right way for the safety of the patients.
Some of the controls put in place include single use of the needles, and sterilization is a must. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, acupuncture is a class II medical device and should never be self-administered. Therefore, acupuncture is safe as long as it is done properly and by the right practitioner.
Considerations to Keep in Mind
Acupuncture does not come with major side effects. However, you may experience some soreness and minor bruising or bleeding coming from the part where the needles were inserted. While some people fear infection, they shouldn’t because the needles are used once and disposed of right away.
If you are pregnant, you might want to wait before going for acupuncture because, to some people, the procedure might stimulate labor. This means you deliver your baby prematurely. You would rather talk to your doctor first to determine whether it is safe for you or not.
If you have a bleeding disorder, your bleeding from the needles might increase, and it is important to consult your physician too. Those taking blood thinners are at high risk of experiencing the same.
Your acupuncturist should tell you the number of sessions you need to complete the treatment and be wholly relieved from the muscle spasm and pain that comes with it. He should also give some information about the possibility of recurring spasms, and if they do, what should you do?
• Finally, if your doctor gave you some medication for a certain condition, do not substitute it with acupuncture. Instead, talk to them first to know if you can combine the medicine with the procedure or should stop them for the time being.
How Exactly Does Acupuncture Heal Muscle Spasms?
We already stated that minor pressure and bruising would occur from the needles inserted. With this, endorphins (hormones secreted within the nervous system) start flowing together with oxygen to different muscle tissues, especially the affected.
This reaction leads to pain alleviation, tension easiness, reduction of inflammation, and improved mobility for the patient. Every session you do comes with these acupuncture benefits, and it is better in each recurring session.
Other Benefits of Acupuncture
Muscle spasm usually comes with stinging pain and tension, causing the affected person to limp-walk or movement is partially or totally restricted.
The main reason why people go for acupuncture treatment is for pain relief, especially when medicines seem not to work. Luckily acupuncture relieves it all.
Acupuncture can also be used for:
- Speeding up the natural abilities for the body to heal itself and hence increased stamina
- Improved relaxation and a better state of mind
- All sorts of pain, including dental, headaches and migraines, neck pain, low back pain, and labor pain
- Menstrual cramps
- Osteoarthritis (a common form of arthritis)
- Healing respiratory disorders, including allergic rhinitis