What conditions do you commonly treat?
Acupuncture is a holistic medicine practice that can help treat many diseases and health concerns. However in general acupuncture is used primarily to treat physical diseases and musculoskeletal issues and Chinese Herbal medicine is used to treat more complicated internal conditions (such as auto-immune disease and other chronic complicated conditions). However there is some overlap between both treatment modalities and patients with more complicated presentations may be treated by both acupuncture and internal Chinese herbal medicine.
The following are list of things that I commonly treat as well as some brief remarks about each:
- Lower back pain- Extremely common complaint with varying degrees of success in treatment, in general pain levels can be reduced and overall comfort levels improved, complete remission of pain in some cases (generally for patients with a shorter history of the issue and no physical degeneration or previous surgical intervention, often working in conjunction with other therapies (PT, Rolfing, etc). If chronic lower back pain often requires initially frequent treatments to reduce pain levels and then ongoing maintenance acupuncture to maintain pain reduction (bi-weekly or monthly depending on patient's response)
- Sciatica- Also a very common complaint, usually only affecting one side or possibly affecting one side but a history of switching sides. Generally a pretty good prognosis unless there is severe disc involvement. Most patients will know in probably the first 3 treatments whether acupuncture is helping, although may take longer to get stable. Hip instability, leg imbalance and SI joint disfunction often part of the overall picture.
- Hip Pain- This covers pain related directly to arthritis type pain affecting the hip joint as well as bursitis. Generally pretty good results treating hip pain, somewhat slower to respond initially in my experience, many patients may need at least 6 visits before they start feeling significantly better. Like lower back pain if there is significant degeneration or damage to the hip joint itself acupuncture may serve more as a way of controlling and moderating pain than resolving the issue.
- Knee Pain- Fairly successful in helping patients with knee pain where there are no major changes yet to the knee joint itself, can also help reduce pain due to acute injury. In cases with severe pain due to degeneration of the knee where a knee replacement has been recommended I have seen less success, however acupuncture does help with post-operative pain and recovery following knee replacement surgery.
- Shoulder Pain-Shoulders are tricky because they are very painful when there is dysfunction which causes guarding which increases the problems and pain. If there have been no severe injuries (actual tearing or damage of the rotator cuff) acupuncture and tui na (Chinese medical massage) are generally enough to restore use and reduce related pain. If there has been actual damage that requires surgery usually surgery is still necessary
- Frozen Shoulder- I have had good success treating frozen shoulder. I use a combination of tui na (Chinese medical massage) to restore range of motion and acupuncture to reduce pain and release muscular tension. Treatments take generally between 10-20 visits (ideally twice a week) to make close to full progress
- Trigeminal Neuralgia-In general I have had pretty good results treating Trigeminal neuralgia, both decreasing intensity and frequency of pain. Treatments tend to be best when done bi-weekly especially while getting the overall pain levels down. Anterior neck and jaw muscles tend to be very tight with this issue, so additional massage can be helpful, also hot pack compresses applied to the side of the face on the affected side seem to be beneficial for at home care.
- Bell's Palsy-A disturbing disease, Bell's Palsy tends to strike quickly leaving one side of the face slack along one or several of the Trigeminal nerve pathways. Responds well if treated quickly with acupuncture (take 2-3 weeks in my experience to fully resolve with treatment), does seem to take longer if it has already been around for sometime without resolving. Acupuncture along with moxibustion seems to help the most in my experience. Bi-weekly treatments are usually best.
- Chronic Headache-Headaches give physicians headaches is a Chinese medicine aphorism. Although I have had in general pretty good success treating chronic headaches, I have run into some patients with chronic headaches that did not improve with acupuncture. Worth trying if this is something you have been living with, but not always the silver bullet.
- Migraine Headache-Unlike chronic headaches, I have had very good success treating migraines (close to 100% success). In general depending on the severity and frequency, initial treatments are 2x week or 1x a week and then as frequency and severity decreases treatments get spaced out over longer and longer time periods. Acupuncture can also help stop migraines from progressing if you are in the midst of a migraine when you come in for treatment in my experience.
- Nausea-Acupuncture is very helpful in reducing nausea. In general nausea is reduced during the treatment itself and effects last from 1-2 days. I often combine forms of wearable acupuncture (press needles or press beads) for at home wear to reduce nausea in case of pregnancy or chemotherapy treatment to extend the reduction effect between treatment. I have also used this for patients with nausea related to gastroparesis with good effect.
- IBS- Strongly correlated to stress and anxiety in certain people, acupuncture is helpful in reducing the stress response and calming and regulating the GI tract. Treatment tends to need to be ongoing, at least during stressful times, but can be spaced further apart as the patient's body adjusts to a calmer state or as they make lifestyle changes to reduce their stressors.
- Ulcerative Colitis-Acupuncture along with dietary adjustments can often reduce ulcerative colitis flares and minimize dependence on harsher drugs often used to control this disease. Treatment tends to need to be ongoing (weekly or every other week) to maintain gains.
- Chronic Cold and Flu- Acupuncture can help reduce tendency to get colds and flus easily, likely by improving stress response. This is often treated concurrently or alone with Chinese herbal medicine for the specific patterns of imbalance.
- Fibromyalgia-In my experience acupuncture does not resolve Fibromyalgia but it can significantly reduce related pain and reduce dependence on other medications which may affect mental clarity and cause other side effects. Treatment tends to need to be ongoing.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome-Often going hand in hand with Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue can improve with acupuncture but this is in general better treated with Chinese Herbal medicine.
- PMS/Menstrual Disorders-A wide gamut of issues, from menstrual cramps, mood swings, hormonal headaches/migraines, breast tenderness, to irregular cycles, excessive bleeding. I generally treat these issues with both acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine, although they can be treated with Chinese Herbal Medicine alone, and in milder cases acupuncture alone. Generally takes at least 3 menstrual cycles to begin to resolve these issues, with weekly or biweekly treatment depending on severity.
- Infertility-Generally similar to the PMS and menstrual disorder description, usually takes at least 3 menstrual cycles for treatment (although I have been surprised by two patients in my past care who both conceived after their first treatment). Can be used in conjunction with Western medical fertility treatments (IUI, IVF). Generally stress reduction is a big component in success, as well as a good sleep schedule (sleeping at night 8-10 hours), and not over-exercising . Tri-athletes and night-shift workers and high intensity professionals tend to have the most issues in my experience.
- Anxiety-Acupuncture in general has a somewhat startling effect of calming most people down (Even people afraid of needles). Because of this it is fairly helpful for people with anxiety issues. Chinese Herbal medicine can also be very appropriate for treating anxiety related issues. Treatment is generally ongoing but can be spaced further apart as patients progress.
- Depression-Depression manifests in many different ways for different people acupuncture can be helpful along with Chinese Herbal medicine, recommend other supportive lifestyle modifications: exercise, time spent in natural settings, adequate sleep. Similar to care for anxiety treatment is generally ongoing but can be space further out as patient progresses.