Olympians turn to the needle

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The list of accidents and serious injuries this winter in Vancouver shows what can happen when Olympians push themselves beyond safe boundaries. But you might be surprised to find what many of these elite athletes turn to when they are injured - and it's something that even brought a pair of Beijing Olympians to Southwest Louisiana.

You've seen the spills and heard from U.S. Olympians like Lindsay Vonn about enduring multiple injuries at the winter games.  Elite athletes, like Vonn, keep going through all of the bumps and bruises. That's why Eastern medicine is penetrating the sports world for athletes wanting to stay in the game.

Dr. Jerome Arimura with Advanced Medical and Diagnostic Center in Lake Charles says he's seen the impact of competition on an athlete's body.  "Every time an athlete competes in any event or trains," says Dr. Arimura, "they're subject to microtrauma."

Dr. Arimura's staff has worked with Olympic athletes looking for a competitive edge, without the use of illegal substances.  Acupuncture has become a "go-to" treatment for many of these athletes.  "Acupuncture is not only effective for treatment of injuries from sports, but also to increase performance," says Dr. Arimura.

Acupuncturist Keetha McDaniel says that needles, as thin as a strand of hair, are inserted into the skin to stimulate the body's own healing mechanisms.  "You have the blood that's in that area that kind of sits around when you have trauma," says McDaniel, "when we use acupuncture, we put needles in that area - it helps to get that old blood moving and to bring in some new blood and nourish the body."

Relief can be immediate - which is what makes this is such an appealing treatment for athletes ready to compete...fast.  Former NFL player turned Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President, Kevin Guidry, recently tore his Achilles tendon - a common injury for athletes.

For a first-hand look at how acupuncture works, Guidry let 7News tag along on his first-ever treatment.  It's something Guidry says he wishes he had utilized during his days with the Denver Broncos.  "Of all the stress I could've taken off my body before actually playing in a game," he says, "it could've helped me relax even more...who knows, I could've been a better athlete because I could've went on a playing field at a much more relaxed state."

After competition, acupuncture can help with more than physical problems.  Athletes are now turning to the needles to treat a condition known as "post-competition depression."  Merging Eastern medicine with Western athletes - competing on a world stage.

*If you have a fear of needles, don't worry! Acupuncture now has needleless options with the same benefits.

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