Acupuncture and Repetitive Motion/Stress Disorders


AA Repetitive Stress DisordersIn Spring, Summer and Fall, it’s natural to spend more time outdoors. The garden needs weeding, the tennis courts are calling, and the many oceans surrounding Wilmington, NC are begging for swimmers. While all these warm weather activities are best enjoyed beneath a bright sun and a warm breeze, they have something else in common – they can all exacerbate repetitive motion disorders.

Repetitive motion disorders are known by a slew of names and acronyms, including repetitive strain injury (RSI), repetitive stress injury, repetitive motion injury, repetitive motion disorder (RMD), cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), occupational overuse syndrome, overuse syndrome, and regional musculoskeletal disorder (whew!). No matter what you call it, however, the end result is the same – pain and discomfort in the muscles, tendons, and nerves. The worst part is that the pain usually occurs in the parts of the body that are most often used, whether for work (carpal tunnel syndrome caused by computers) or play (think tennis elbow).

Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) are the number one job related injury in the United States, and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) alone sends over two million people to the physician’s office each year. Symptoms include any of the following in the affected area:

  • Tightness
  • Stiffness
  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Coldness
  • Numbness
  • A loss of strength all along the arms right down to the fingertips.

Western medicine recommends treatments such as pain killers, steroid injections, physical therapy, and, in severe cases, surgery. While these can offer temporary relief, they address only the symptoms, and not the underlying causes of repetitive motion disorders. Traditional Chinese Medicine such as acupuncture, on the other hand, has been found to provide longer lasting relief.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a repetitive stress injury or repetitive motion disorder is viewed as a symptom, signaling a disruption of the flow of Qi within the affected area. This is caused by cold, dampness, or wind penetrating the muscles and sinews. TCM uses a combination of acupuncture points, stretching exercises, and Chinese herbs to restore Qi and cure the root of the problem, rather than treating only the symptoms. Studies have shown that acupuncture can help relieve many of the most common repetitive motion injuries, including:

  • Bursitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
  • Diffuse RSI
  • Dupuytren’s contracture
  • Epicondylitis
  • Ganglion
  • Rotator cuff syndrome
  • Tendinitis – also known as tendonitis
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Trigger finger

Whether it’s an office job that keeps you tied to a computer, or the promise of a summer spent on the tennis courts, repetitive motion conditions can have a negative impact on your quality of life. Go in swinging with regular acupuncture treatments, and discover the relief you’ve been reaching for.


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