What is Myofascial Acupuncture?
I am a family physician and educator turned medical acupuncturist. For the last 15 years, my practice has been devoted to acupuncture and acupuncture related techniques, and while I treat many kinds of disorders, I have specialized in myofascial disorders and chronic pain. Drawing on the work of Western trigger point innovators, such as Janet Travell and David Simon, Peter Baldry, and Chan Gunn, and on a variety of acupuncture traditions, including traditional Chinese, Japanese, ear and scalp acupuncture, I have developed my own unique approach. This method addresses the role of the fascial networks and central nervous system in the development and maintenance of myofascial dysfunction and pain.
Myofascial acupuncture (MFA) is an anatomically grounded approach to chronic or deep-seated musculoskeletal and myofascial pain. It incorporates acupuncture, fine needle trigger point deactivation (a form of dry needling), gua sha, cupping and other myofascial techniques, along with traditional and neuroanatomically-based acupuncture. This intensive kind of acupuncture is often the step required to break through tightly held patterns of pain and dysfunction.
Who Can Benefit from Myofascial Acupuncture?
People who benefit from myofascial acupuncture tend to have problems that have been around for a long time, perhaps gradually getting worse over time, or responding partially or briefly to other interventions. They may feel that their problem has never really been eliminated or addressed at its core. A frequently heard story is that “no one has been able to figure out what’s really going on. Sometimes there is an associated condition, like a slipped disc or arthritis that is blamed for the their symptoms, when it may contributing only a small amount to the symptoms at hand.
Many patients who benefit from myofascial acupuncture have already seen multiple specialists, undergone numerous treatments, and invasive procedures, but are still symptomatic. Many are referred by “hands on” practitioners, from physical therapists and chiropractors to myofascial and massage therapists, who find areas of “stuckness” in their clients that do not respond to their work. Surgeons, psychiatrists and other pain management specialists and primary care providers tend to refer patients after having tried everything else in their toolbox.
What Conditions Benefit from Myofascial Acupuncture?
There are many conditions that have been shown to respond to acupuncture, but there are many different kinds of acupuncture. Myofascial acupuncture is particularly helpful for:
- Chronic myofascial pain, repetitive strain, overuse injuries, including computer use, work related conditions
- Neck pain or stiffness due to strain, arthritis, disc disease, pinched nerves, injury, or poor posture; migraine and tension headaches
- Shoulder impingement and rotator cuff strain, tennis elbow, wrist and forearm problems, including carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back pain or sciatica due to strain, degenerative disc disease, nerve compression.
- Chronic myofascial pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction
- Other conditions that get short term relief with chiropractic treatment or massage, but are soon “right back where they started”.