Conditions Treated with Sports Acupuncture

Whitfield Reaves specializes in the treatment of sports injuries, pain, and musculoskeletal disorders. We use an integrated approach of the most effective techniques of traditional acupuncture within the context of a western orthopedic and sports medicine framework. The classical texts of Chinese medicine theory provide us with very intriguing diagnostic insights. However, it is the precision of anatomical and orthopedic point prescription, such as trigger points and motor points, that significantly increase our results, patient by patient, in the clinic.

Acupuncture by Whitfield Reaves offers many effective therapies, including the following services:
  • Orthopedic acupuncture and other sports medicine protocols
  • Treatment of trigger points and other anatomically significant tissues
  • Assessment and treatment of pain due to postural imbalances
  • Electrical stimulation specifically for pain management
  • Skilled therapeutic cupping techniques to increase micro-circulation
  • Integrated approaches for the enhancement of athletic performance

Whitfield Reaves is very well trained in assessing and treating shoulder injuries, and is very outspoken on the importance of an integrated approach in this specific treatment. Because most rotator cuff injuries refer pain into the deltoid region of the shoulder, and even down the arm and forearm, many practitioners simply put the needles in the wrong places. Yes, it is where it hurts. But where it hurts is not where the problem is! For the untrained acupuncturist, this leads to ineffective treatments along the zone of pain, rather than the primary site of the injury in the rotator cuff itself.

Muscle strain and tears, tendonitis, and inflammation usually respond quite well to the techniques of Acupuncture Sports Medicine. Other injuries that benefit include bicepital tendonitis, frozen shoulder, and shoulder impingement syndrome. While not a complete list, we have effectively treated the following shoulder conditions:
Supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendonitis
AC joint separation, AC joint arthritis
Bicepital tendonitis, biceps tendonosis
Levator scapulae syndrome, including "stiff neck"
Shoulder impingement syndrome
Shoulder bursitis
Pathology to the pectoralis muscle syndrome, including the often-overlooked entrapment of the neuro-vascular bundle
Frozen shoulder, including a variation now being seen in peri-menopausal women

Many upper extremity injuries respond well to the precise techniques of Acupuncture Sports Medicine.
  • Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow, climber's elbow)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Arthritis of the wrist, hand, and finger joints

Treatment to the hip is one of our "favorites" at Acupuncture Sports Medicine Maui. In 1072 AD in China, the Bronze Statue revealed the complete compilation of acupuncture points used today in the 21st century clinic. But 1,000 years ago humans did very little sitting, and of course no driving in automobiles. Pain, contraction, and spasm of the muscles of the hip and back was uncommon, and thus there is virtually no description of acupuncture points in these important muscles of the gluteal region.

By integrating trigger points, motor points, and zones that we consider "anatomically significant" due to their proximity to nerves or other vessels, we have developed treatment protocols that are significantly more effective than the centuries-old traditional point prescription. Whitfield Reaves has refined these points to within millimeters of precision, which is described in his books and seminars. At our clinic, we find that treating the hip has achieved very satisfying outcomes for our patients.

Hip, pelvic and sacral conditions that we treat include:
  • Hip (trochanteric) bursitis
  • Osteoarthritis of the hip joint
  • Sacral-iliac joint dysfunction
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • The sacral-tuberous ligament

A wide variety of knee injuries are commonly seen at our Acupuncture Sports Medicine clinics over the last 20 years. With skiing, running, and even high altitude hiking, the knees just don't seem to be able to escape injury. Anterior knee pain, caused by patello-femoral joint syndrome, is a condition experienced by a growing number a patients over the age of 50. This chronic arthritic syndrome responds to the acupuncture protocols that we both utilize in the clinic and teach in our workshops. With proper and precise technique, the acupuncture needle reaches the sub-patellar (under the knee cap) region. With the addition of electrical stimulation or heat (moxibustion), patients usually report this treatment protocol is more effective than any other form of treatment that they have tried. Patients with patello-femoral pain will frequently be referred to a physical therapist for complementary modalities, with an emphasis on strengthening the quads and gluteal muscles, which works well with acupuncture treatment. And acupuncture treatment of the patello-femoral joint works well with Synvisc (hyalaronase) injections, and new and sometimes effective medical procedure.

Other acute and chronic injuries to the knee that may be considered for treatment:
  • Ligament sprain (MCL, LCL). Sorry, folks, we just can't get to the ACL!
  • Patellar tendonitis
  • Patello-femoral joint pain, chondromalacia
  • Meniscus injury. Because of the limited blood to the meniscus, this is a very low percentage success rate, despite what other clinics may suggest.
  • Ilio-tibial band syndrome


In our decades of experience with the runner, cyclist, and triathlete, we have obviously seen leg and foot injuries. Lots of them! The following is the short list:
  • Shin splints, both anterior and medial
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ankle sprain
  • "Big toe" (1st MTP joint) osteoarthritis
  • Morton's neuroma
We also diagnose and treat a number of peculiar lower extremity conditions, including inflammation of the pes anserinus, metatarsalgia, achilles bursitis, and fat pad syndrome. Call us to inquire if you have pain that might respond to acupuncture. Remember, sometimes all you need is to increase the micro-circulation into some of these leg and foot conditions, and the body's ability to heal is stimulated.

In general, acupuncture may benefit many types of tendonitis, both acute and chronic. Treatment to the muscle, the tendon, and the surrounding tissues may increase micro-circulation and therefore relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance healing time. In Acupuncture Sports Medicine, we often add needles to treat the belly of the muscle, thus helping to elongate the muscle-tendon unit, and reduce pathology at the tendinous attachment. Any strain to the tendon is treatable with acupuncture, as well as the current "catch-all" terms tendonitis, tendonosis, and tendonopathy.

Commonly treated tendons include:
  • The Achilles tendon
  • "Tennis elbow” and inflammation of the extensor tendon of the forearm
  • "Climber's elbow" with its inflammation of the forearm flexor tendons
  • Shin splints – tendinous inflammation to either the anterior or the medial compartment muscles

Arthritis often responds well to acupuncture, although treatment may take a bit longer. The knee and the hip are two common sites of osteoarthritis. Both are well-treated by the techniques used in Acupuncture Sports Medicine. However, the smaller joints also may respond well to acupuncture. By treating the surrounding tissues, increasing micro-circulation at or near the joint, and addressing other metabolic and structural issues, patients with arthritis usually experience relief. And patients in our clinic usually have confidence in the overall programs we use to maintain their joint function.

The following joints may respond well to our sports acupuncture techniques:
  • Arthritis of the hip
  • Osteoarthritis of the 1st metatarsal-phalanges joint (the “big toe”)
  • AC joint arthritis and shoulder bursitis
  • Knee osteoarthritis (anterior, medial, or lateral compartments)
  • Arthritis of the smaller joints of the wrist, hand, and foot.

Both the neck and low back are common patient complaints. Injuries include sprain, strain, bulging or herniated discs, and soft tissue injury. Because of the complexity of both the low back and the neck, we will treat only those patients that can be helped with our techniques of acupuncture. The classic writings of traditional Chinese medicine describe back and neck treatments in detail. However, these protocols often seem inadequate with many clinic patients today. This is probably due to the fact that prolonged sitting and other unfavorable postural and bio-mechanical factors are new to the population at large. Degenerative disc disease and disc herniation that results from chronic loading of the back and neck have created syndromes not seen by the Chinese masters 500 years ago. Thus, with low back and neck pain more than any other condition, treatment must use an integrated approach, and combined with complimentary modalities like PT, massage, and therapeutic exercises. These treatments were poorly described in the traditional Chinese texts, but are essential for today's clinic patient.

Other acupuncture clinics may boast of brilliant results in treating back pain. We hope this is true, but our experience tells us it is a more complicated picture. But you can be sure that Whitfield Reaves and Acupuncture Sports Medicine Maui will do everything we can to relieve the condition.

Acupuncture may be considered a very effective modality for treating other injuries and pain syndromes. We can't list them all here, but if you have questions, please call us. And you can be sure that we don't take patients with conditions that do not respond to acupuncture. If we think we can help you, we'll get you on the schedule. Those who might benefit from different modalities are referred to the best practitioners in our network and referral system.

If you are training for a specific athletic event, Whitfield has developed protocols that might be beneficial to you during both training and competition. We do not yet have studies that definitively prove acupunctures role in benefitting performance. Those are designed and will be completed in the near future. However, it is an interesting application of traditional Chinese techniques, and some athletes find treatment to offer “significant” support to their performance. We assist athletes with athletic performance, but we must have an initial office visit with a good medical history and perform the required exams for diagnosis and assessment. This is an essential basis in prescribing of acupuncture and herbal medicine for the enhancement of athletic performance. And, with all Whitfield's years of experience with Olympians, every procedure and medicine is USOC "legal", which is an obvious concern in this era of performance enhancing drugs.