Acupuncture & Neck Pain

Recent studies have shown that “acupuncture can be a safe form of treatment for patients with chronic neck pain if the objective is to obtain relief from pain related to movement and to improve cervical mobility. As neck pain may be a chronic condition with considerable socio-economic impact, single forms of treatment may be inadequate, and acupuncture merits consideration.”  Other studies suggest that acupuncture can treat degenerative disorders of the neck and spine. Neck pain according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be caused by a variety of factors: Below are some of the more common TCM diagnoses that an acupuncturist may discover and treat. Over-use / Strain / Muscle Tension / Invasion of Cold, Wind and Damp / Bi Syndrome

Acupuncture & Back Pain

Back Pain is a very common problem that affects 80 percent of all individuals at some point in their lives.  In fact, it is one of the top reasons people seek medical care.  Unfortunately, back pain isn’t always easy to diagnose or treat.  Low back pain in particular can become a chronic or ongoing problem.  Acupuncture and TCM are based on the concept that energy called Qi, flows through the body along different pathways to different organs.  If the body’s energy becomes stagnant, unbalanced or deficient, symptoms such as back pain, aches and inflammation can result.
● Stagnation – A pain that is often linked to sudden, stabbing, severe pain that is related to sprains, strains or trauma.  It can be accompanied by stiffness and tightness and becomes worse with rest.
● Obstruction – A pain that is generally worse in the morning and exacerbated by cold or damp weather. This type of pain condition may be associated with numbness, swelling and a sense of ‘heaviness.’
● Deficiency – A pain is usually a chronic condition that presents with ‘dull’ pain and improve with rest.

Acupuncture & Pain

Most people experience significant pain at some time in the lives – whether from an injury, illness, or an unknown cause.  Pain is a warning signal, an alarm that goes off when your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong and out of balance.  Acupuncture practitioners recognize that there is a vital energy, called Qi, circulating within the body.  Qi flows through a series of pathways called meridians.  Meridians are like rivers within your body.  Wherever a river flows, it brings with it water that provides nourishment and life to the land, plants and people around it.  Likewise, meridians transport life-giving Qi that provides nourishment to every cell, tissue, muscle, organ and gland in the body.  It is important for Qi to flow freely throughout the body.  However, if the disruption of Qi is prolonged or excessive, the flow of Qi becomes restricted and a variety of symptoms, including pain, may arise.  By inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points, an acupuncturist is able to break up blockages that have hampered the smooth flow of Qi.  Once this is done, Qi can travel freely throughout the body, promoting pain-free health, well-being and vitality.

Acupuncture & Allergies

According to Chinese medical theory, the symptoms and signs that indicate a Western diagnosis of allergies relate to imbalances in the meridian and Organ system of the body.  These imbalances may stem from a variety of causes, including stress, poor diet, constitutional weakness, pollutants and environmental toxins.  Over time, if imbalances remain within the body, they will affect the function of the Organ Systems.  Some of these Organ Systems are involved in the production of Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”).  According to the theory of Chinese Medicine, it is important to have the correct quality and quantity of Wei Qi circulating the body in order to stay healthy.  The Chinese concept of Wei Qi is similar to the Western concept of the immune system.  Wei Qi functions to protect and defend the body against foreign substances, that if not caught can lead to allergies.  When Wei Qi is strong and abundant, we remain healthy.  When the supply of Wei Qi becomes deficient, health is compromised and we become vulnerable to foreign invaders such as dust, mold, animal dander, bacteria, viruses and pollen.  People who have a Wei Qi deficiency are prone to allergies and frequent cold.  Acupuncture and Chinese medicine support and strengthen the systems of the body that are involved in production of Wei Qi.  By building up the supply of Wei Qi, and facilitating the smooth and free flow of it through the body, symptoms and signs related to allergies could be greatly reduced or eliminated.

Acupuncture & Headache

Acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) offer a safe and effective approach to relieving headache pain, without causing harmful side effects, and incorporate a comprehensive diagnostic protocol than can help your acupuncturist understand and address the root cause(S) of your headache.  During  treatment, in order to restore the balance and flow of Qi, fine sterile needles will be inserted at specific points along the meridian pathways.  Based on your unique symptoms, your acupuncturist will choose to concentrate on acupuncture points related to specific organs. Self-Care Techniques for headache – Track those triggers / Stress Relief / Exercise / Health Habits

Acupuncture & Stress

Stress is a natural response of the body to the various demands we place upon it.  In ancient times, our stress response, also known as our fight and flight response, provided us with energy to preserve life during difficult situation.  Unfortunately, modern day stress is considerably higher, more frequent and more consistent than what our predecessors experienced.  Acupuncturists have been helping people cope with stress for thousands of years.  Stress affects the body is by causing a depletion or blockage of Qi, especially that of the kidneys and adrenals.  Qi is the vital energy that animates and supports the functions of the body.  It flows through specific pathways, called meridians and provides nourishment for the entire body.  When Qi becomes “blocked” or the supply is inadequate, the body and organ systems become “stress-out” and our health is then compromised.  With acupuncture, practitioner’s job is to support and restore the integrity of the various organs affected and depleted by the stress response, along with evaluating the quality and quantity of Qi.

Acupuncture & High Blood Pressure

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects more than one in three Americans, but most people may not even know they have it.  Since hypertension can lead to heart attack and other life-threatening health problems, it is very important to learn all you can and take action to lower your risk.  Western medicine has a different t approach for the treatment of hypertension, and relates it to a disease of the cardiovascular system.  Acupuncture and TCM practitioners take a holistic, or “whole body,” approach for the treatment of hypertension, and take into account inharmonious conditions of the whole system than can involve the function of the liver, kidneys, digestive system and heart.
Self-care for lowering blood pressure – get daily aerobic exercise / Add Tai-Chi and Qi-Cong to your workout / Meditate or spend time alone to reduce stress / practice slow, deep breathing / get plenty of  rest / reduce amount of fat and salt in your diet and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables / Avoid smoking, alcohol, coffee, and spicy food

Acupuncture & IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complex disorder in which the intestines lose their ability to efficiently move their contents.  The main symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation.  Less common symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, depression and anxiety.  Symptoms may be triggered by stress, diet, emotional factors, hormone levels and medication.  According to Chinese Medicine, the body is like a garden that must be cultivated and maintained in order to grow strong and remain healthy.  Good health happen when all of the organs and meridian systems are balanced and working together.  According to Chinese medical theory, there are several possible causes for IBS.  It could be either Spleen imbalance, Liver imbalance, and/or an imbalance of Kidney Yang.  Acupuncture can create a clear picture of the root imbalance(s) that leads to IBS symptoms.  When you meet with your practitioner, he or she will determines what organ and meridian systems are contributing to your IBS. 

Acupuncture & Depression

Depression affects about 121 million people worldwide and can be debilitating for those who experience it.  Prolonged feelings of sadness, discouragement and hopelessness greatly affect the quality of life.  Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) incorporate thousands of years of experience in treating depression.  Not only can they help to alleviate the signs and symptoms accompanying depression, they can address the root cause(s) and underlying imbalances that have contributed to the problem, safely and naturally.  Acupuncturists are aware of the powerful interplay between our body and emotions, and that the two are inseparable.  When we experience emotional upset, our physiological state may become disrupted.  Likewise, when we experience physical problem, our emotions can become greatly affected.  An acupuncturist will take a complete health history to find out where, why, and how Qi has become stagnant or depressed.  Typically, the treatment plan goals will be to activate the movement of Qi throughout the entire body, as well as to address the root cause(s) abd underlying imbalances.

Acupuncture & Arthritis

Western treatment generally focuses on relieving pain and preventing further joint damage.  Often this is done through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications, as well as self-care and physical therapy.  In some cases, surgery may even be needed.  Acupuncture offers a safe, natural way to control joint pain and other symptoms and maintain overall health.  In fact, a 2004 study showed that patients with OA of the knee experienced a 40 percent decrease in pain and a 40 percent increase in function after receiving a series of acupuncture treatments.
Quick facts: There is no “quick fix” for arthritis and it may take to achieve results.  However, there are lifestyle changes you can make that may help you find relief faster.  By exercising regularly, sticking to a healthy diet, and taking steps to de-stress you can alleviate symptoms.  Try alternating heat and cold for pain relief.  Heat treatments, such as warm baths or heat pads, soothe stiff joints and tired muscle.  Cold treatments are best for acute pain as they numb painful areas and decrease inflammation.

Acupuncture & Anxiety

In many Western schools of thought, anxiety disorders are considered to be dysfunctions in a person’s brain chemistry.  An acupuncturist does not view anxiety as a brain dysfunction, but rather as an imbalance in a person’s organ system.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this imbalance called Shan You Si (“anxiety & preoccupation”), and is believed to affect the main organs: the Heart, Lung, Spleen, Liver and Kidneys.  Each organ is related to different aspects of a person’s emotions.  The role of an acupuncturist is to investigate the underlying causes of the anxiety by carrying out a thorough diagnostic evaluation in order to determine which organ system is out of balance.  The acupuncturist will then seek to restore the imbalance by inserting fine, sterile needles into the points correlating to those organs.
Quick facts: A clinical study conducted in China in 2010, has concluded that acupuncture is a “safe and effective” treatment for mood disorders including depression and severe anxiety, in some cases proving to increase the effectiveness of medication-based treatments.  Additionally a 2009 study, again in China, determined that acupuncture alone could help patients who suffer from anxiety but cannot be chemically treated due to intolerable side-effects of medications. 

Acupuncture & Insomnia

Insomnia can be very frustrating, but it’s more than just an annoyance.  When insomnia becomes ongoing, or chronic, your body is unable to get the rest and renewal it needs for you to feel your best.  In fact, a lack of quality sleep can cause problems such as difficulty concentrating, diminished energy, low mood, and trouble performing everyday tasks.  Since sleep strengthens the immune system, insomnia can leave you susceptible to many other health concerns.  According to the theories of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), conditions such as insomnia are a sign of an imbalance in Qi, the vital energy that animates the body and protects it from illness.  To determine the underlying causes of your insomnia, your acupuncturist will take many factors into account including your lifestyle, as well as your emotional and mental well-being.  He/she will then work to restore the balance and glow of Qi by inserting fine, sterile needles at specific points along the body.

Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are complimentary therapeutic modalities that are often used together in the treatment of a variety of medical condition.  Over the past 5000 years, Chinese herbology has evolved into an art form of its own.  Ancient herbal information was gathered, complied, formulated, tested and handed down from generation to generation.  Today, practitioners of Chinese medicine continue to prescribe herbal formulas because they work extremely well.  A practitioner who makes use of herbs is familiar with most of the 1,800 herbs in the Chinese pharmacopeia.  All of these herbs are classified according to their energetic qualities, functions and the different organs, meridians and disharmonies for which they address. 
•    Chinese herbal medicine is part of a larger healing system called Traditional Chinese Medicine.
•    Herbs are prescribed to restore energy balance to the opposing forces of energy - Yin and Yang - that run through invisible channels in the body.
•    Herbs can act on the body as powerfully as pharmaceutical drugs and should be treated with the same caution and respect.