What is Medical and Sports Acupuncture?
Robert Massa, M.D.
What is Medical & Sports Acupuncture?
In the past 2,000 years, more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than with all other health modalities combined. “Medical” acupuncture refers to treatments performed by a medical doctor licensed in western medicine, who also has thorough training in acupuncture as a specialty. Such physicians use an integrative approach to treat and help prevent diseases, offering patients the best of both worlds in addressing their health concerns.
“Sports” acupuncture specifically addresses concerns of the athlete, to include sports-related injuries, performance enhancement, and post-activity muscle recovery.
How does Acupuncture work?
The Classical Chinese explanation is that the human body has channels of energy, called meridians, that run in regular patterns deep throughout the body and on the surface. Meridians are like rivers flowing through the body that function to irrigate and nourish tissues and organs. “Disease” represents a blockage or obstruction in this flow, like a dam, which can further restrict flow to other parts of the body, creating an imbalance, with excess flow to some areas, and too little flow of energy to others. Acupuncture points provide a means by which we can access and influence these meridians to re-establish balance, and a regular flow of energy to put the body back “at ease.”
The modern scientific explanation is that needling acupuncture points stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain, that decrease the body's experience of pain and induces the body's own internal regulating system to heal naturally.
Does Acupuncture hurt?
Modern-day needles are very thin, flexible, made from stainless steel, and are sterile and disposable. They are also solid, so the risk of skin irritation is minimal when compared to hollow needles used for blood draws and IVs. Most patients feel only minimal discomfort, if any, during the brief insertion and manipulation of the needle to access the meridian. Once the needle is in place, no pain is felt.
What kind of problems is it used for?
In the hands of a well-trained physician, acupuncture is used in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems; including digestive, respiratory and neuromuscular disorders, urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problems. Acupuncture is also useful in treating physical problems and symptoms related to tension, stress, and emotional conditions.
How many treatments do I need?
The numbers of necessary treatments vary from person to person. Individuals with complex or longstanding conditions may require one or two treatments per week for several months. For simpler acute problems only one or two treatments may be needed. For routine health maintenance, four sessions a year may be all that is necessary.
Are there side effects?
Rarely; and if so, are temporary. Occasionally, original symptoms worsen for a few days or changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or bladder patterns or emotional state may occur. This is your body’s natural way of re- organizing its energy flow. This potential short-term effect is an indication that the acupuncture is working. You should start feeling better once the “dust settles” and the imbalance corrects.
Do I have to believe in Acupuncture for it to work?
No. Of course a negative attitude toward wellness may hinder its effects, just as it would with traditional western treatments. An open, neutral attitude (”I can’t believe I’m actually letting a doctor do this to me”), will not block treatment results.
As a patient, how should I prepare for treatments?
The following guidelines are important to enhance your response to treatment:
Do not eat a large meal immediately before or after your treatment.
Do not exercise, engage in sexual activity, or consume alcohol within six hours before and 24 hours after treatment. Plan your activities so that after treatment you can rest and “pamper” yourself for 24 hours, and not have to be working at top performance.
Continue taking any prescription medications as directed by your physician.
About Dr. Massa
Dr. Massa received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA, and performed his Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and obtained his Certification of Training in Medical Acupuncture from the UCLA School of Medicine.
He has over 20 years of broad-based clinical experience in adult health care disease prevention and treatment; seeing patients ranging in ages from puberty to geriatrics. This experience includes a range in complexity from routine office visits to critical intensive care inpatient admissions.