Before bombarding me with articles and papers that say otherwise, like my dear friend Mahan did (still love you though x), allow me to explain.
Yesterday was my first physiotherapy session- I was referred by the consultant in my follow up appointment after dislocating my shoulder. I’d been looking forward to it because I was finding it hard to sleep because of pain, and I was also struggling with activities that required using my right arm, which is why I was hoping the physio would get me started on exercises to strengthen my shoulder muscles.
So I’ll admit that I was definitely like, “Erm… what?” when he asked me to take my top off, to expose my shoulders. I was wearing a vest, as I’d been advised to, and I thought that exposed my shoulders enough without me needing to undress. I complied though, as I didn’t want to make a scene, but I felt uncomfortable the whole time. Don’t get me wrong, the physio I had was very professional, I just wasn’t expecting that. On a positive note though, at least I had a pretty bra on?
So advice for anyone who might find themselves in a similar situation- definitely say something if it really bothers you, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for a physiotherapist/doctor who is the same gender as you.
Anyway, after examining and getting me to do some movements, he concluded that my rotator cuff muscles were stiff and tender, so before starting me on strengthening them, they’d have to be relaxed, and would I be okay with having acupuncture to do this?
At first, I was like “Whoa whoa WHOA, acupuncture is available on the NHS?” I definitely was not aware of this, but apparently it is! He explained that the reasoning behind this comes from the theory of the existence of trigger points in muscle. As seen in Myofascial Pain Syndrome, applying pressure to these points leads to referred pain, which is pain felt in unrelated parts of the body. So acupuncture aims to release tension by stimulating these trigger points.
Yeah the scientific reasoning behind all this is dodgy, and there’s not much evidence of its physiological pathway, but I agreed to it anyway because I was like, why not? And before I knew it, I was lying face down on a bed with 5 needles in my shoulder. It hurt a bit when they were put in (less painful than an injection though), but by the end of the 10 minutes they were in for, I could hardly feel them.
The physio got me to do some movements afterwards, and I was able to move my arm more than I could at the start of the session. I’m to see him again next week (and once a week for a month after that), and should be able to start rotator cuff strengthening then.
I am well aware that my shoulder feeling less stiff could just be a placebo effect, and not actual proof of the effectiveness of acupuncture itself, but I’ve got less pain in my shoulder now, and that’s a good thing. I was also able to sleep straightaway last night, and for the first time in a while, I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night. So if acupuncture was the reason for this, then to me, it really isn’t that bad.