Needling Is Soft Tissue Therapy

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Clinicians have observed that needling therapy can be used with some efficacy in almost all known pathologic conditions, from soft tissue pain to Parkinson's disease, cancer, and even acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), with varying results. Needling therapy does not reverse many of these conditions but is able to improve some symptoms for some time. This merits specific clarification.

One of the most important concepts in ISDN medicine is that the nonspecific mechanisms of needling do not directly target any particular disease. Conventional medicine is designed to treat specific pathologic conditions with specific diagnoses and procedures. In almost all clinical cases, the benefit of ISDN therapy is the normalization of soft tissue function. The only exception is the occasional use of needling for anesthesia during surgery, which is not considered in this book.

Soft tissue encompasses muscles, connective tissues, and nervous tissues. In this book, the term is used to include muscles, ligaments, tendons, bursae, capsules, fasciae, peripheral nerves, blood and lymphatic vessels, and viscera with their associated soft tissue such as pleura or ligaments and nerves. The CNS is also considered soft tissue by some authorities. Soft tissue is distributed all over the body and accounts for 50% of body mass. It plays a role in all human activity, including mental activity (which is aided by blood vessels, for example). Therefore all pathologic conditions understandably involve soft tissue, and in many cases, the soft tissue is itself the pathologic focus of the symptoms or disease: for example, soft tissue pain in sport and daily activity.

"Pain" Stimulation "Acupuncture + Pain" Stimulation cACC Thalamic Nuclei cACC Thalamic Nuclei

"Pain" Stimulation "Acupuncture + Pain" Stimulation cACC Thalamic Nuclei cACC Thalamic Nuclei

Cortical Stimulation Pain

Figure 6-3 Cortical activation resulting from "pain" first and "needling" afterwards. A significant decrease in activation is seen in most of the pain signal processing areas, which include the cingulated cortex and the thalamus.

"Pain" Stimulation "Acupuncture + Pain" Stimulation

Figure 6-3 Cortical activation resulting from "pain" first and "needling" afterwards. A significant decrease in activation is seen in most of the pain signal processing areas, which include the cingulated cortex and the thalamus.

When needling is used for cases of drug abuse, it does not provide any pharmaceutical effect against the drug itself, but it reduces the tension in soft tissue that results from drug withdrawal.

The experience in Chinese acupuncture of more than two millennia of practice, as well as modern medical evidence, confirms that needling promotes normalization of dysfunctional soft tissue and restores homeostasis of biologic systems.

Soft tissue dysfunction manifests in the following symptoms:

• Inflammation

• Contracture of contractible soft tissues such as muscles, fascia, tendons, and ligaments

• Adhesion between different soft tissues

• The formation of scar tissue within the same tissue and between different tissues after chronic inflammation or injury

• Blood and lymphatic conditions such as deficient microcirculation and edema

• Trophic conditions of soft tissues

• Imbalance of musculoskeletal systems and inhibition of reflex

All human diseases involve soft tissue dysfunction to a certain extent. Many clinical symptoms are related to or produced by compensatory changes in soft tissue. The efficacy of medical intervention in treating many external injuries and internal dysfunction depends on how much the pathologic process of soft tissue—such as inflammation, contracture, adhesion, trophic deficiency, scarring, and blockage of local microcirculation—can be remedied. Chronic soft tissue dysfunction is a pathologic condition resulting from all these pathologic processes in soft tissue after acute or chronic injury. Compensatory adjustment may occur to enhance survival by sacrificing systemic homeostasis. For example, a person with a shorter lower limb continues to function by adjusting musculoskeletal balance. This compensatory adjustment favors immediate survival but can cause ongoing long-term homeostatic imbalance.

Thus soft tissue dysfunction and injury can happen at any time and in any environment as a result of external insults or internal imbalance, such as infection, physical invasions, overuse, cumulative injuries, diet abnormalities, internal pathologic conditions, improper or aggressive medical procedures, emotional stress, or changes in climate. This is why the incidence of soft tissue disease in human beings is so high.

After proper treatment of some acute dysfunctions of soft tissue, the tissue will heal and resume normal functioning. Some dysfunctions, however, may develop into chronic conditions. In some cases, dysfunctions or injuries of soft tissue start as chronic diseases. After injuries such as external physical tearing or internal tissue ulcer or inflammation, the result may be contracture, adhesion, scarring, and blockage of local circulation, tissue deformation, all of which lead to compensatory adjustment. The compensatory changes may become irreversible; therefore the dysfunctional soft tissue plays a major role in creating chronic symptoms and gradually sensitizing the CNS. Thus the term chronic soft tissue syndrome is used to describe a variety of chronic conditions.

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