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Acupuncture in the treatment of concussions

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

Concussions are a type of injury that is difficult to treat and the associated symptoms can vary greatly. Its treatment therefore requires a multidisciplinary approach, which may include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nutrition and supplements and, of course, acupuncture. Acupuncture has a regulating or modulating effect on a person’s physiology and is an excellent tool that can be used as part of a concussion recovery program. During the recovery period, the treatment plan must take into account the wide variety of symptoms and problems specific to each injury. Acupuncture can help in many ways and can be combined with other approaches.

Blood circulation

Acupuncture can regulate blood flow in the brain. After a concussion, the blood circulation to the brain can decrease for a few days, weeks, months and even years after the impact. Research has shown that acupuncture can increase circulation through arteries carrying blood to the brain. Acupuncture also improves glucose metabolism in the brain. This metabolism is often affected by concussions.

Dominance of the sympathetic system

After a concussion, many people experience an increase in the sympathetic system. The sympathetic nervous system is that part of the autonomic nervous system which prepares the body for action, to cope with a stressful situation (fight or flight). When it is unbalanced, it can lead to symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, sweating. Acupuncture can help rebalance the autonomic nervous system and return sympathetic activity to a normal level.

Relief of cervicogenic symptoms

Many of the common symptoms after a concussion can be caused or maintained by neck tensions or imbalances (cervicogenic problems). The neck is the most mobile and vulnerable part of the spine. Following a violent impact, strong enough to cause a concussion, we should expect problems in the neck as well. Many of the neck symptoms (cervicogenic) are often mistakenly attributed to the concussion. These symptoms include pain and tension in the neck, headaches and migraines, dizziness, tinnitus, and even visual problems and problems with concentration and memory.

Neuroplasticity and neurogenesis

Studies have shown that acupuncture has a direct effect on neuroplasticity (the ability of neurons to modify and remodel) and neurogenesis (creation of new neurons from stem cells). Therefore acupuncture has an effect on the body’s ability to create new neural connections and even generate new nerve cells. Some acupuncture points may increase the secretion of nerve growth factor (NGF).

Acupuncture is a gentle and safe approach that can be integrated with other therapies during the remission period after a concussion. Our acupuncturist is trained in the treatment of concussions and can help you return faster to play and your daily activities.

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