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Acupuncture Treatment of Musculoskeletal Pain: When? Why? How?

Seminars and workshops on the treatment of musculoskeletal pain by needling tender ahshi points or trigger points
Sylvain Cardinal, Acupuncturist.

Tremendous interest from the medical community over the last two decades in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain by acupuncture has led to numerous clinical studies.

Evidence of the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture for a variety of musculoskeletal disorders has become more and more recognized.

This has led to further discussion. Considering the vast variety of acupuncture styles, what is the most suitable acupuncture technique for musculoskeletal pain? Although this question certainly does not have a simple answer, there is considerable evidence that deep (intramuscular) needling of tender points -whether we call them ahshi points from an acupuncture perspective or trigger points from a medical perspective- is an effective technique for alleviating musculoskeletal pain.

But even if deep needling is a very simple concept, questions arise for the acupuncturist as they are learning such techniques:

  • How deep do we have to needle?
  • How intensely do we need to stimulate the ahshi point?
  • Can we treat successfully such an orthopaedic condition?
  • Do we need to refer such patients to a physician or a physiotherapist?
  • Which anatomical structures can we needle without danger and which ones must we avoid?
  • How can we avoid a risky anatomical structure in the vicinity of an ahshi point and yet still be able to needle that point accurately?

A deeper understanding of anatomy, myofascial pain, orthopaedic and neurophysiology is then necessary. Those so-called Western notions are not far removed from the basic principles and wisdom of Traditional Chinese acupuncture.

Workshops and seminars by Sylvain Cardinal are designed to guide the acupuncturist in the process of acquiring new skills for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and include a closer look at myofascial pain. Emphasis on strict needling procedures to avoid any anatomical accident, such as puncturing a viscera or damaging a peripheral nerve or artery, is a major topic.

With more than 20 years of experience as a practitioner and 10 years as a continuing education teacher, Sylvain Cardinal has guided more than a hundred licensed acupuncturists as they acquired the skills of deep needling of ahshi points, enabling them to further perfect their clinical evaluation and treatment tools.

With the collaboration of Rosemont College, the only Québec institution providing graduate training in acupuncture, two books on acupuncture treatment of musculoskeletal pain have been published by Sylvain Cardinal, one in 2004, and the other in 2006.

Sylvain Cardinal and the Rosemont College Department of Acupuncture propose a program of 4 weekend seminars in English on the evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal pain. Rooted in anatomy, the program includes hands-on workshops with participants practising their needling techniques on each other, always, of course, with rigourous supervision. Special attention is directed to the integration of Western concepts such as orthopaedic and myofascial syndrome into the framework of Traditional acupuncture. These courses are intended only for graduate acupuncturists; they do not constitute a basic acupuncture course for non-acupuncturists.

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