Among the wide variety of ailments that acupuncture addresses, the most common ones I find myself treating in the clinic are the following:
1) Pain Management
Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck? Or did you throw your back out while playing your favorite sport? Whether your pain is due to an injury, illness or an unknown cause, Acupuncture is very effective at treating ALL forms of acute and chronic pain. Pain is a warning signal your body gives to tell you that something is wrong and out of balance. Pain medications are good at suppressing the pain thus providing immediate relief but they do not address the underlying cause.
A Registered Acupuncturist’s (RAc.) approach is based on the Meridian System where vital energy, called Qi (pronounced “chee”) circulates within these channels. Similar to blood flowing within blood vessels, Qi flows through a series of pathways called meridians thus provides nourishment to every cell, tissue, muscle, organ and gland in the body. A blockage or stagnation in the flow of Qi can restrict circulation resulting in a variety of symptoms, including pain. As the blockage is prolonged, the more chronic the problem becomes. An acupuncture needle will help break up these blockages so that Qi can once again travel freely throughout the body, promoting pain-free health, well-being and vitality. You can think of the blockages as scar tissue, trigger points, lactic acid buildup, fascia tension, muscle tension due to dislocated joints or fractured bones.
If you want a surgery-free and drug-free option to pain, try Acupuncture!
Supporting Article: Acupuncture Relieves Pain in Largest Study of Treatment
Stress, whether it is from work, relationships, money or simply life, is a natural response of the body to the many demands we place upon it. Also known as the “flight or fight” response, our bodies try the best it can to preserve as much energy as it can so that it is able to make it through these difficult situations. Over time, this takes its toll on our bodies, especially since modern day stresses are considerably higher, more frequent and more consistent. For example, the majority of the clients I see at my clinic are females, with or without family, who have way more responsibilities than those women 50 years ago. As more women are becoming career-focused and are seeking higher education, the demands increase thus does the stress.
Healthy responses to stress include physical exercise, good eating habits, positive thinking, adequate rest, and having a solid support network. Unhealthy responses to stress include negative thinking, overexertion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep and isolation. These unhealthy responses can cause the body to work harder than it needs to and can trigger physical and mental health issues. When the body has to work harder, this stress taxes our nervous system, lymphatic organs (spleen, thymus, lymph nodes), kidneys and adrenal glands.
Along with healthy lifestyle choices, Acupuncture helps a great deal on stress relief. I often love seeing my clients “float” away from a treatment with a blissful smile on their face. That’s what life should be about… having FUN! If you have any of the following listed below, it’s time to find a way to manage your stress whether it be via the healthy responses mentioned above, mindful meditation or Acupuncture. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
Signs and symptoms of an overactive response to stress:
• Depressed immune system
• Digestive disorders
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• Joint pain
• Weight problems
3) Low Energy / Chronic Fatigue
Low Energy and chronic fatigue are the most commonly seen chief complaint in my clinic. Whether due to hypothyroid, adrenal fatigue, recurrent colds, overworking whether at work or home, post-childbirth, these are all reasons that can affect a person’s energy levels. Since Acupuncture is based on the Meridian system in which qi (pronounced “chee”, also known as vital energy) travels within these meridians, the term “energy” is an important concept here, especially to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
TCM considers that qi circulation becomes blocked, also known as Liver-qi stagnation (not the Liver organ itself but the qi within the Liver), especially when our bodies are in “flight or fight” mode. This results in a fluctuation in our energy levels. Acupuncture helps with unblocking these areas to ensure the free flow of qi within our body, similar to the concept of removing a dam within a river. It’s like exercising, but from the inside out!
4) Women’s Wellness
Do you miss work due to monthly menstrual cramps? Do you suffer from hot flashes due to menopause? Does PMS affect your life? These are all VERY common ailments to each and every female from the day menses starts to the day it wanes. Other treatable conditions include pre / post-menstrual headaches or migraines, amenorrhea or absence of periods, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), fertility problems, heavy periods and much more.
Also known as dysmenorrhea, painful periods can be a result of endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts or fibroids. In severe cases, lower back & groin pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or even fainting can occur. As said above, Acupuncture helps with breaking up blockages within the body so that qi can travel freely. When qi travels freely, pain is diminished. Acupuncture works as a compound treatment, especially when it has to do with any part of the menstrual cycle. One treatment will provide some relief but not as long term as a full treatment plan. Just imagine how long cramps have affected your life. Generally speaking, the more chronic the problem, the longer the treatment plan. You no longer have to rely on ibuprofens or acetaminophens. I, myself, am a walking testimonial when it comes to painful periods and am now free of painkillers.
Menopause is a natural, physiological cycle that takes place for women from the ages of 35 – 60 years old. Hormonal changes are very present during menopause. In Chinese medicine, these hormonal changes are due to the jing, yin and yang deficiency. Yin deficiency is like the cooling system of the body. When yin declines, the cooling system declines too thus giving rise to heat symptoms. As a result, a woman experiences hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, heart palpitations, insomnia and nocturia. The opposite can happen where a woman’s yang energy declines. Yang energy is the heating system of the body. Symptoms of yang deficiency may include water retention, weight gain, edema, indigestion, hypertension, and migraine headaches. Acupuncture helps with balancing the yin and yang levels within the body so that symptoms are manageable.
Premenstrual Syndrome also known as PMS occurs monthly, accompanied with specific signs and symptoms that appear 3–14 days before the onset of menstruation and disappears once menstrual flow begins. Due to unbalanced hormonal fluctuations, other factors such as stress, bad diet, lack of exercise and sleep, having had children, and family history of depression can make PMS symptoms seem much worse. Western medicine recommends hormone manipulation (such as birth control pills or hormone-releasing IUD), tranquilizers and / or antidepressants (for nervousness, anxiety and depression) in treating PMS. Acupuncture can address PMS symptoms naturally, without medication, by restoring balance both emotionally and physically. Common PMS symptoms include acne, anxiety, appetite changes, backache, bloating, breast tenderness & swelling, constipation / diarrhea, cramps, depression, edema, headaches / migraines, heart palpitations, mood swings, irritability and anger, joint pain, nausea, salt and / or sugar cravings, vaginitis, weight gain, skin disorders, sore throat, cold sores. Whether you suffer from the occasional PMS symptoms or on a monthly basis, Acupuncture and Chinese medicine along with dietary and lifestyle changes can offer a safe, natural and effective approach to alleviating these symptoms.
5) Digestive Disorders
Stomach pain, abdominal bloating, belching and flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux are some of the side effects experienced from anyone having Celiac disease, IBS, Crohn’s disease, hiatal hernia. These symptoms can also occur merely from a bad diet alone. Regardless of the reason, Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have a great impact on balancing the digestive system.
Specifically affected is the imbalance of the Spleen qi. In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen is the organ in charge of digestion, the transformation and transportation of foods and liquids. The Spleen is easily affected and weakened by poor eating habits and diet, antibiotics, excessive worry, or a weakened constitution. When a weakened Spleen cannot metabolize or process food efficiently, the rise of “dampness” appears in the body. Headaches, “foggy” feeling, inability to concentrate, drop in energy levels after meals, bloating, fullness and loose stools can be a result from “dampness”.
The Liver qi also plays a role in our digestive system. Associated with emotional health, stress and anger along with alcohol, drugs and prescription medications can also compromise a healthy gut. If your Liver qi is compromised, you may experience alternating diarrhea and constipation, bloating, gas, headaches and dull abdominal or hypochondriac pain.
It is important to get a full consultation with a Chinese Medicine practitioner / Registered Acupuncturist so that you get a personalized treatment plan in addressing your digestive problems. Unlike Western Medicine where each disorder has the same treatment plan, in Chinese Medicine, two people can have the same Western medicine diagnosis but for two different reasons. This is why Chinese Medicine is so unique in addressing a person as a whole. No two individuals are the same constitution.