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Sports Medicine Acupuncture Course Review

There have been past discussions where members of this group have had patient
feedback that is positive about DN. Or their patients have found relief through DN
that they could not get through a L.Ac. Its rare, but it happens. After being a KAR
member for over a year and reading various posts, the one thing I have learned is
that PTs education in anatomy/physiology/orthopedic assessment gives them an
edge over me (and many L.Ac). Even though they have crap needling training and
patient safety is a very real scary thing, they are being taught to release trigger
points and stimulate a muscle to relax via twitch responses which is something that
I, at least, have not been taught in my MSOM program (I understand that Tri-State
teaches something similar, but I suspect a lot of MSOM programs glaze over it as
mine did). If there is something positive that this whole DN dilemma has taught me
personally is that its pressured me to step up my game. The PTs may have
orthopedic knowledge, but I am a far better needler than those jamokes. I just
needed to increase my knowledge of orthopedics, trigger points, etc. So I entered
the Sports Medicine Acupuncture Certification (SMAC) with Matt Callison this year in
Chicago. There are four modules that are taught over a 12 month period. Ive
completed the first module which involved issues related to the spine and am
halfway through the shoulder/arm module. Though I still have a ways to go (module
3 and 4 are lower extremities and hips), I at least wanted to give a review of the
program. Arguably, I have not attended a DN weekend course. However, I deeply
believe what Im learning far surpasses anything that PTs are being taught. Heres
why:

Motor Points Motor points are found in the belly of a muscle where the
highest concentration of motor nerves are found. These nerves contract and
relax the muscle directly. These points can be tender, causing referral pain
and are thus trigger points. However, trigger points identified by Travell are
not necessary motor points. Trigger points can be found elsewhere in the
muscles. While PTs are taught to needles into trigger points, SMAC focuses
more directly on motor points. Compression of the motor nerves which, in
turn, keeps the muscle in a contracted state can be alleviated directly, but
since trigger points are not necessary motor points, needling trigger points
may/may not get to the root of the issue with the patient.
Finding the Root of the Problem Matt has found over his 25 years in Sports
Acupuncture that needling just motor points may not treat the issue. If there
are points of compression along the nerve from the spine to the muscle,
those points need to be released as well. Otherwise, the muscle will tighten
up again. Learning his techniques helps to identify those points of
compression and release those issues.
Distal Point Application Matt also includes a series of distal points that help
to supplement local needle therapy. He has found utilizing both will help
correct the issue long-term, instead of temporarily fixing the issue. In fact,
he has found that without utilizing all of the above and then some, the
patient will be great until they walk out the door and the body starts falling
back into its own pattern.

Needling Technique less painful than DN, more effective. Hes found some
crazy cool needling techniques that do not hurt the patient, but produce
excellent results just the same. He has also found more effective ways to
needle existing acupuncture points based off of his advanced knowledge of
anatomy/physiology.
Postural Assessment The program reviews identifying musculoskeletal
issues by assessing posture. From there, exercises are given in-between
sessions to the patient to stretch some muscles and tonify others. Needling
and myofascial release techniques are presented to tonify/sedate to alleviate
symptoms.
Myofascial Release Matt includes knowledge of releasing the fascial
plane(s) that are affecting the muscles in question. Fascial planes run along
the meridians but are larger (note, sometimes the fascial planes diverge a
little, but not by much). Releasing the fascia not only helps treat the muscles
in question, but also any ancillary muscle groups that may be affecting the
area.

PTs have only one technique and its a trigger point twitch response. We all know
that this technique only goes so far and with a limited number of patients, but
sometimes its what is needed and I didnt want to be left in the dust by PTs on
those patients. SMAC is far better, more effective and a complete therapy instead
of a tool as PTs like to say. It utilizes orthopedic assessment, local/distal needling
and myofascial release. It treats and balances the root problem and the
surrounding problems contributing to the symptoms. The program is intense. A lot
of orthopedic information is thrown at the student. I finally get to see where the
points are on a cadaver and how to safely needle deeply such muscles like
subscapularis without causing a pneumothorax (something that scared the bejesus
out of me before). But I have already started using his method on how to treat the
spine and have had stellar success. I successfully treated three patients of their
chronic fatigue in two weeks by utilizing his teachings in 1-2 treatments among
other ailments (because his program also treats internal disorders though it does
not state that). However, I note that this program is expensive. I really hemmed
and hawed over taking it because its $8500 just for the 12 month program (not
including travel). Knowing what I know now, Id say the $8500 is a steal. This
program is easily doctorate worthy and, if taught in DAOM program, would be more
than double. I know that the cost is a big factor, especially when a lot of us
acupuncturists are starving. For me, it was worth it and it may be worth it for others
so I at least wanted to review it for this group, especially for those who are in an
area where DN is prolific. Im confident that when I complete the program, I will beat
the pants off any PT practicing DN, hands down.