Got Pain?


According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine:

  • Over one million doctor visits per year are reported for plantar fasciitis.
  • Ankle sprain is the most common sports-related injury, with lateral sprains increasing the risk for developing chronic ankle instability.
  • Shoulder injuries affect 21% of the general population, with a report of 40% lasting at least one year.
  • Low back pain affects nearly 80% of adults with annual costs greater than $26 billion.
  • There are approximately 80-100,000 anterior cruciate (knee) injuries that occur annually in the general population. 70-75% do not involve major trauma. Osteoarthritis occurs at 10x greater rate with ACL injuries. The economic impact of this is ~$650 million annually (surgery + rehabilitative costs).

Are you primed for injury?

Whether you are an athlete or sedentary, the efficiency of your Human Movement System (muscles, joints and nerves) plays a major role in determining your risk for injury.

Movement efficiency is dependent upon optimum length of your muscles, the ability of your joints to move fully in all planes of motion, and the effectiveness of your nervous system to coordinate movements.

If you look around you, it is not hard to see that most people have some sort of imbalance in their posture and do not move optimally.

Compensatory movements result from these imbalances and eventually, so will some sort of injury.

If you are an athlete, these imbalances will affect your performance.

How do you move?

Last weekend I was fortunate to take a course called Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA).

The SFMA involves assessing movements and looking for the most dysfunctional movement patterns. This enables us to identify the cause of imbalance (i.e. which muscles and joints arte involved and whether or not it is a stability or mobility problem).

During the lab portion of the class, one individual’s most dysfunctional/non-painful pattern was neck flexion.

He was also unable to touch his toes during lumbar forward bending.

In the SFMA, you generally treat starting from the neck down.

I spent about 10 minutes doing some manual therapy to his neck and when we rechecked his range, it was full. So was his lumbar flexion.

Keep in mind that I did not treat his low back.

This is a key example of Regional Interdependence – how seemingly unrelated areas of the body influence each other.

How effective are the typical therapeutic interventions for pain and injuries?

Many of us have experienced one or more of the following modalities for our pain or injuries: physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and/or cortisone injections.

In my experience, therapy is only as effective as the assessment (i.e. is the area treated the source or compensation?).

The pain tells you where it hurts. Identifying the abnormal movement patterns tells you why.

Once the source is identified, one of the most effective therapies to restore range of motion and eliminate pain is Acupuncture Release Therapy (ACU-RT).

Acupuncture Release Therapy (ACU-RT) is not like traditional acupuncture. While it borrows the needle, its application and effectiveness for pain and injuries is often astounding.

ACU-RT is based upon three main principles:

1.  Simplicity- evaluation and treatment can be efficiently done in a short period of time

2.  Reproducibility– procedures and results are reliable and reproducible

3.  Predictability– practitioners can predict how well a patient will respond, the approximate number of treatments needed and if or when symptoms will return

How does ACU-RT Work?

ACU-RT is the use of sterile needles to make lesions in the soft tissue. These lesions activate the body’s reflexes that normalize the nervous system and muscle tone and stimulate healing.

The technique works by stimulating the injured area at precise locations, positions and movements.

When the needle is inserted, it reflexively causes autogenic inhibition ( i.e. the myofascial tissues in the area immediately relax- as fast as turning off a light switch).

Patients may feel some residual soreness from the minor inflammatory reaction caused by the needle stimulation, but the feedback I have received is that this is a welcome sensation compared to their pain, and it is often transient.

The unique feature of ACU-RT is that the patient is treated in a provocative rather than passive position, for example, if they have back pain while bending they are treated in a bent position. In addition, the patient may be asked to contract the muscles opposite to the one where the needle is placed, in order to facilitate another reflex called reciprocal inhibition.

Sherrington’s law of reciprocal inhibition states that “when a muscle on one side of a joint is contracted, the muscle on the opposite side of the joint is sent a neurological signal to relax or release”.

If the patient’s pain is reproduced with movement, then they are also asked to move the painful area with the needle inserted.

The efficacy of ACU-RT depends on:

  1. The severity and nature of the disease
  2. How long the injury has been there (acute conditions respond faster than chronic)
  3. The healing ability of the patient
  4. Minimizing perpetuating factors

Perpetuating Factors can include:

  • Mechanical factors
  • Nutritional inadequacies
  • Dietary factors
  • Metabolic and endocrine imbalance
  • Psychological factors
  • Advanced arthritis
  • Prior surgery or scar tissue

Patients typically experience three types of pain relief:        

  1. Immediate– usually seen in young, healthy patients
  2. Cumulative- some initial relief, with complete relief after several treatments
  3. Delayed relief– reduction in symptom experienced days or weeks after treatment

Is ACU-RT painful?

The needle reaction can produce a variety of sensations ranging from dull to sharp. Because the relief can be so immediate, the procedure is well tolerated by most people.

Some people report feeling the need to stretch after the procedure.

What conditions respond best to ACU-RT?

Acu-RT is can effective for any type of musculo-skeletal condition, including but not limited to strains, tendonitis, sports injuries, overuse injuries and headaches.


Acu-RT is generally accompanied by corrective exercises (CEX) which can be performed at home or right after the therapy. These exercises typically consist of foam roller and tennis balls for self myofascial release, stretching, isolated strengthening and reeducating movement patterns.

Got Pain?  

How do you move?


About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin