How Electroacupuncture Can Help Shoulder ‘Stingers’

How Electroacupuncture Can Help Shoulder ‘Stingers’

In contact and collision sports such as football, peripheral nerve injuries are quite common. One American football study showed that the lifetime rate of brachial plexus injuries was 50.3%. This nerve can be found in the neck, with many branches going down to the ribcage, the armpit, and down to the upper arm to the hand. The result of this injury can lead to what’s called the cervical “burner” or “stinger” syndrome, which can be identified through unilateral weakness, generally paired with a burning sensation that follows down an upper extremity all the way down to the fingertips. Although the condition may last only two weeks, it can also become a chronic syndrome. 

Injury to this region can affect both sensation and movement of different parts of your arm. These injuries can be caused by the shoulder being pushed down and the head being pulled up, which causes stretching and tearing of the nerves.

How Electroacupuncture Can Help 

In one research study, electroacupuncture was used in one group following a brachial plexus injury, while a second group did not undergo treatment. The results were quite promising. The findings were that the group given electroacupuncture treatment had an increased number of endorphins in the arcuate nucleus compared to those who did not receive treatment. This kind of endorphin is a peptide that is comprised of 31 amino acid residues and is found in vertebrate neurons. When we experience pain, this endorphin is released to reduce the pain that we feel. The group that received electroacupuncture therapy showed a much higher number of endorphin positive cells compared to the group who did not receive treatment.

Because this endorphin was found in such a greater quantity in the group that received electroacupuncture compared to the control group, it shows that a greater analgesic effect was achieved. This was also consistent with the behavioral observation that should how the thresholds for mechanically induced pain were higher, and instances of autonomy were less in the electroacupuncture group than in the control group. This further shows how electroacupuncture is an effective treatment option following a brachial plexus injury.

The conclusion of this study shows that electroacupuncture can be effective in relieving neuropathic pain after brachial plexus injuries, especially after total brachial plexus avulsion. Because electroacupuncture is both safe and inexpensive, it is a very good option after one undergoes an injury that harms their brachial plexus. 

Resource: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4160867/

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