I personally experienced the power of traditional Chinese medicine after fracturing my femur and recovering twice as fast as the average patient with acupuncture, therapeutic massage, dietary and herbal therapy. There are so many natural and highly effective resources for patients recovering from traumatic injuries, surgeries, and seeking relief from acute or chronic pain. To expedite healing, Chinese medical practitioners will often focus on specific channels including the liver, kidney, and spleen channels which are associated with tendons, bones, and muscles respectively. Acupuncture, acupressure, massage, cupping, gua sha, dietary recommendations, and herbs applied externally or taken internally are just some of the many resources available to patients.
Let's begin with herbal therapy. The June 2017 Outpatient Surgery Magazine article "Herbal Post-op Pain Control" is a great resource for pre or post surgery patients to reference for homeopathic medicine to decrease inflammation and reduce recovery time (recommendations shown in featured image). The post surgery suggestions are great for any patient seeking pain and inflammation reduction. In addition, clinically I have found Golden Flower Chinese Herbs formulas Trauma 1 , Trauma 2 , & Bone & Sinew to be very helpful in restoring the body post injury or surgery. Trauma 1 is for the acute stage of injury marked by heat, swelling, and pain. The first stage of trauma can last from several hours to a week or so depending on the severity of the injury. As long as redness, heat, and swelling exist one can assume that the injury is still in the first stage of recovery. Trauma 2 is for the second stage of healing with stiffness and pain. Second-stage trauma can start from two days to ten days after the injury and could last from several days to several weeks. The time frame depends on the extent of the injury and the healing potential of the patient. Both formulas are great for bruises, cartilage damage, fractures/broken bones, jammed fingers/toes, and torn or sprained ligaments/tendons. The Bone & Sinew formula is ideal for fractured bones, damage to cartilage, and sprained or strained tendons/ligaments. This formula should only be taken for a short period of time and is often combined with another formula to improve the patient's overall health. You can also review a long list of external herbal formulas and which ones to use for different types of injuries here: external herbal medicine. Consult with a licensed practitioner to determine the best options for you.
The benefits of acupuncture pre and post surgery or with any inflammatory response in the body are numerous especially considering acupuncture can:
- Help the body regulate sugar metabolism stabilizing energy levels
- Increase white blood cell count strengthening the immune system
- Alter the brains neurological response to pain, reducing the intensity and frequency of the pain response and increasing endorphins (the feel good hormone)
- Enhance serotonin production, a hormone related to sleep, appetite, and emotional health
- Regulate digestive fluids
- Decrease cortisol (stress) levels, activating the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation)
- Decrease side effects from medications (opioids and other pain medications can cause constipation among many other adverse reactions)
To alleviate constipation you can do self abdominal massage or acupressure. Lie down with knees supported and apply a quarter size amount of castor oil to the left lower abdomen. Massage in a clockwise direction, small circular motions as you make your way up the left side of the body until you are just below the left rib cage. Massage from left top of abdomen across to the top right of the abdomen and then down towards the right lower abdomen. Repeat several times before reversing the direction and starting in the right lower abdomen ending in the left lower abdomen. Remember to take deep belly breaths as you apply gentle pressure. You may wish to end with a warm towel or heat pack over the abdomen (heat allows the castor oil to penetrate into the skin and soften the stool). You can also apply saran wrap prior to adding the heat pack or towel to further allow the castor oil to be absorbed into the skin. Allow the heat to penetrate the skin for 10-30 minutes. In addition, first thing in the morning drink a 12 ounce glass of lukewarm water on an empty stomach mixed with 1 tablespoon honey or alternately drink the water but have a tablespoon of olive oil with a squirt of lemon. Consuming three to five prunes cooked lightly in water for 5 minutes before bed can also be helpful in alleviating constipation.
Lastly, the diet can have a profound influence on inflammation, immunity, digestion, and energy levels. Avoid gluten, dairy, processed foods, sugar, and alcohol as much as possible. Incorporate 3 cups of chamomile tea per day to encourage muscle relaxation. Create an anti-inflammatory oil to marinate foods in with coconut oil, turmeric, and black pepper. Drink bone broth daily (if you do not have an issue with processing histamine) especially while healing from bone fractures. Steamed, cooked, or grilled foods especially soups are easier for the body to digest. Foods high in Omega 3's such as wild caught salmon, chia seeds, flax seeds, egg yolks, and sea vegetables are anti-inflammatory power houses. Coconut water (fresh from organic coconuts) is ideal for restoring electrolyte balance within the body and counteracting dehydration.
Regardless of what stage of inflammation you are in, I encourage you to seek out natural healing resources to nourish your body and restore health. I hope you have a speedy recovery!