People from all around the world (three billion, I heard this morning) will be turning their attention to the Olympic Games in Vancouver during the next couple of weeks. One of the top stories surrounding these games is about Lindsey Vonn, the darling of the US Ski Team, from right here in Minnesota.
Earlier this month, Lindsey injured her shin, resulting in a painful bruise, right where her shin comes in contact with her ski boot. Lindsey, while being model-gorgeous and gracing the pages of the current Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, is also hot on the slopes. She is a legitimate contender for five gold medals, so any whiff of an injury or weakness becomes international news.
When I see any kind of news story about celebrity illness or injury, my Chinese medicine mind clicks into gear. Every time an actor opens their mouth wide enough, I’m doing a TV tongue diagnosis. When some entertainer has an illness, I want details. As an acupuncturist, I want to diagnose these people. In Lindsey’s case, the diagnosis is pretty easy. According to Chinese medicine, she has something called blood stasis.
Good health in Chinese medicine is all about flow , whether it’s energy, blood, digestion, or emotions. When blood is not flowing smoothly, it stagnates and causes pain; usually the kind of pain that is fixed in one place and is stabbing in nature. Blood stagnation, or blood stasis is also associated with the color purple; not the book, but what happens when you get a bruise. Some examples of blood stasis include blood clots, varicose veins, some types of headaches, endometriosis, and in severe instances, heart attacks and pulmonary emboli (blood clots in the lungs). In the case of heart attacks and pulmonary emboli, the patient’s face, nails, and tongue will turn purple.
Chinese medicine has a lot to offer for someone with symptoms related to blood stasis. Acupuncture is all about flow, and for most patients, it would be the first line of defense. There are also dozens of Chinese herbs that get your blood moving. Some of them are recognizable, such as safflower flower, frankincense, myrrh, peach pit, salvia root, red peony root, and turmeric tuber and rhizome. Needless to say if you’re having a heart attack, are short of breath, or having severe chest or abdominal pain, get to a doctor–now.
So what should Lindsey do? Start out with compression (wrapping it) and ice to keep the bleeding and swelling to a minimum. Elevate the injury, as blood moves downhill. After a day or so, begin heating the injury so the blood will move out of the area, and take it easy. She should also be having regular acupuncture treatments to speed up the healing process, get the blood moving, and relieve the pain.