Acupuncture Speeds Healing Post-Surgery
Published on March 16, 2017
by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

Acupuncture Speeds Healing Post-Surgery

Published on March 16, 2017 by Dr. Caitlin Gordon


wrist X-ray to show acupuncture speeds healing This is a personal success story about how acupuncture speeds healing post-surgery. I broke my right arm (radial head fracture) rollerskating 3 months ago and needed surgery to put it back together. The surgeon inserted a large plate with quite a few screws into the bone to hold my wrist in place. I was told it would be three full months before I could return to higher-impact activities like skiing or weight-training. My surgeon instructed me not to do any full body weight-bearing exercise, like push-ups until my final X-rays, three months post-surgery.

Start Acupuncture Immediately

I know acupuncture speeds healing, so I started right away. While I was still bandaged up, I got acupuncture on the areas at either edge of the bandage. My acupuncturist used points along my right shoulder and elbow to help with the tension from the fall and the days of being in a sling. I only took prescription painkillers for two days post-surgery, and those were the only days I took off work. Ibuprofen was sufficient for the following two days. Four days post-surgery I was taking only natural anti-inflammatories like curcumin (from turmeric).

Narcotic pain meds and NSAIDs are dangerous and have serious negative effects on digestion that can take months to resolve.  The effects on the gut microbiome lead to anxiety and/or depression. I want you to avoid going down this path! Emotional health is my specialty, and surgery can be the trigger that starts a cascade of health issues. The sooner you can get off pain medication, the better. Acupuncture is so effective for pain!

Acupuncture Heals and Desensitizes Scars

before and after photos of wrist surgical scar to show acupuncture speeds healingAfter my stitches were taken out and I was put into a removable wrist brace (2 weeks post-surgery), I started acupuncture along the incision and the joint. This helps increase blood flow for faster healing. The range of motion in my wrist was very limited and my surgeon recommended occupational therapy. This didn’t fit into my budget or my schedule, but I felt confident that daily stretching and twice weekly acupuncture would suffice. I was warned that the carpal tunnel release they added in during surgery was notorious for leaving a thick, sensitive scar. I was instructed to massage it for five minutes 5-10 times a day. Talk about unrealistic! Fortunately, acupuncture has longer lasting results than massage, so I only massaged it twice a day and put needles along the scar 2x week.

Acupuncture works so well to heal scars and reduce nerve sensitivity. My carpal tunnel release scar was fully healed and I could put pressure on my palm after 6 weeks. The above photos were taken Jan 10th 2017–fresh and unhealed, and March 10th 2017–flat and fully healed.

Acupuncture Improves Range of Motion

I got the green light six weeks post-surgery to use my wrist for very light weight-bearing ( 5lbs or less). I had been doing that for about two weeks already. At two months post-surgery I had regained 95% of my full range of motion. I started doing resistance training and putting my full weight on the joint.

At my final three month x-rays and post-op, my surgeon was amazed that my wrist had regained full flexibility. I told her I had been able to do push-ups for about three weeks already with no pain. She was genuinely surprised and delighted. My fracture was no longer visible on X-rays and the bone looked like it had never been broken. Acupuncture speeds healing.

Nutritional Support is an Important Piece of Healing

Our bodies are incredible healing machines when we treat them right. Despite having celiac, which is notorious for causing vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, and slow healing, I healed about 1 month faster than was typical. I included plenty of bone-supportive measures on top of acupuncture such as k2, vitamin C, collagen peptides, dark leafy greens, and grass-fed animal protein.

Getting back to doing your favorite exercise, activities, hobbies, and work is essential for maintaining a balanced mood and vibrant energy level. My goal is always to support your emotional health and wellbeing.

You can heal faster than the average person too! Acupuncture and personalized health recommendations go a long way towards optimizing your body’s ability to recover.

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