Why Acupuncture Will Become Even More Popular For Spinal Issues

It’s likely that you or someone you know, at some point, has or will deal with back or neck pain. Nearly 80% of us will seek medical care because of these types of issues, which all start with one of the most important areas of our body—the spine.

The problem is, the treatment for these types of pain has traditionally been relatively narrow. There’s almost certainly a link between the prevalence of neck and back pain and the growing opioid crisis across the United States. More people are being prescribed addictive, harmful drugs to treat pain, which only creates a negative cycle.

But as Acupuncture Today reports, there’s a good chance that more people will soon be seeking acupuncture to help with spine-related issues rather than turning to medications. That’s partially because as we learn more about the spine itself, the evidence is growing that natural, conservative care can not only be the best form of relief, but is better positioned to help prevent pain from getting worse in the first place.

“Advanced diagnostic imaging will continue to expose new features of pathology associated with neck and back pain,” Acupuncture Today writes. “Greater emphasis will be places on biomechanics assessment, conservative pain management, and biological solutions which promote favorable tissue regeneration, remodeling, and repair.”

Acupuncture, through, harnessing the body’s energy, promotes self-healing. Without the need for any invasive, external chemicals like those found in most medications, acupuncture allows for natural pain management and relief. When it comes to back and neck issues, the root problem is in the spine, where energy is being blocked. Acupuncture opens up the pathways that allow the energy to regulate and flow freely.

As more and more research shows that spinal issues can be better prevented and treated through holistic, biological solutions, acupuncture will continue to grow as the best way to treat back and neck pain.

How Acupuncture Helped Ease A Woman's Anxiety

It is well-established, with scientific backing, that acupuncture is effective at treating anxiety. Acupuncture’s ability to regulate the body’s qi often helps those who suffer from anxiety feel more relaxed, more in control of their emotions, more present and more confident. We can go on in detail about how and why acupuncture is a valuable part of a treatment regimen for those suffering from anxiety, but we love when we come across personal stories of those who are discovering acupuncture’s benefits for the first time.

So when we saw this personal, first-person account on Popsugar from author Alexandra Hubbel the other day, we couldn’t help but smile…and of course share it with you.

Alexandra tells of how she was suffering from a number of symptoms like dizziness and inflammation, stemming from what she believed was her anxiety. When a friend suggested acupuncture, Alexandra was skeptical at first but gave it a shot.

Then comes our favorite part of the story. As Alexandra writes:

The acupuncturist actually listened. She let me cry. She sympathized. She offered advice. And she didn't make me feel crazy or overdramatic or try to blame my physical symptoms on anxiety and depression alone.

This represents something important to us that doesn’t often get talked. We can’t speak for everyone, of course, but we can promise that we’re a judgment-free zone. It is important that every patient feels comfortable coming to us and describing what they are feeling—that way we can accurately treat what is ailing them. It’s understandable that many people are apprehensive about telling an acupuncturist about something like anxiety. But we are here to help with anything you may be going through and build out a personalized treatment plan that will create lasting change.

Alexandra’s acupuncturist told her “that there's a light at the end of this painful, exhausting tunnel.” We couldn’t think of a better way to describe acupuncture’s goal.

Don't Get It Twisted—What Your Tongue Says About Your Health

If you go to an acupuncture session and your acupuncturist asks to look at your tongue, don’t worry. They’re not about to plunge a needle into your mouth! The fact of the matter is that all healthcare professionals should ask their patients the same request. That’s because you can tell a lot about somebody’s health simply by looking at their tongue and knowing what to look for.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a general map of the tongue is drawn that corresponds to different parts of the body, important organs that our health depends on. The very tip of the tongue corresponds with the heart and lung; the two side edges to the liver and gallbladder; the back (near the throat) to the kidney, bladder, and intestines; and the center corresponds to the spleen and stomach. Issues on those areas of the tongue could lead an acupuncturist to treat a specific area of the body that can be the root cause of the pain or discomfort the patient is experiencing—even if it might be different from what the patient is physically experiencing. See the image below via Village Wellness:

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In general, what practitioners would be looking for is the color and texture of the tongue. A healthy tongue is pink with a thin white coating, and should be proportionate to the person’s body. If a tongue is larger than it should be, swollen or puffy, that means there is likely a qi deficiency. A dark or blue/purplish-ish tongue may indicate stagnation as well, from heat or cold, while a reddish tongue indicates the body temperature is running high. A thick coated white tongue, as many people know, usually relates to some sort of cold/sinus/respiratory issue, and likely means there is extra fluid in the body.

While it won’t tell us everything, the tongue gives a good high level indication as to what is going on in the rest of the body. If the body’s energy isn’t regulated, it will show in the most unlikely of places. So if you can’t quite articulate what’s brought you to seek out acupuncture, your tongue can do some of the talking for you.

Interested In Acupuncture? Watch These Documentaries

Though it is increasing in popularity around the country, awareness of acupuncture and its effectiveness for various pain management and treating illnesses is still a bit lacking. Spreading the word is something we’re deeply invested in, as so many people out there remain who can still discover how acupuncture can safely and lastingly better their quality of life.

Though it’s an endlessly interesting subject with a rich history, acupuncture isn’t too often the subject of much entertainment. However, there are a some documentary films that have been made about acupuncture or feature the treatment in some way that we’d like to highlight.

The brother of documentary filmmaker Doug Dearth, Devin, is a former bodybuilder whose years of competing took a toll on his body—eventually causing him to undergo a massive stroke When he was unable to find proper, lasting treatment in the United States, Devin headed to China to seek out Eastern medical cures—and Devin took his camera along to document the experience. Out of it came the film 9000 Needles; made in 2009, the documentary featured at many major film festivals.

“This is helping to improve awareness in parts of the country where acupuncture is not well known,” Doug Dearth said about his intentions in documenting his brother’s story. “I wanted to open up people's eyes a little bit.” The film can be viewed on Amazon Prime video.

In 2012, the film “Escape Fire: The Fight To Save American Healthcare” came out to very positive reviews. The film largely focuses on the American Health care system, particularly how it seems designed to get people into hospitals and medical facilities and treat them with drugs, not necessarily to cure their illnesses in the best possible ways. One of the stories featured in the film is of a military veteran suffering from PTSD and chronic pain whose conditions improve after he receives acupuncture and other holistic treatments. In his review of the film, the famous critic Roger Ebert notes “We learn that acupuncture has been tested and approved by the Air Force for more than 20 years, though few for-profit hospitals make it part of their practice.” That sad truth remains, although we are now seeing the tides shift slightly.

“Escape Fire” can also be viewed on Amazon Prime Video, and we highly recommend checking out both films to learn more about how acupuncture can effectively treat many ailments.

Acupuncture Effective For IBS And Other Stomach Issues

They say when you gotta go, you gotta go, but for many people out there this is nothing to be coy about. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a very common disorder that affects the large intestine. Those who suffer from IBS will often feel bloating, cramping and other more intense abdominal pain that can be eased or relived with a bowl movement. But in addition, IBS can cause either diarrhea or constipation, as well as excess gas or mucus in the stool.

What makes IBS difficult to treat for many folks is that there isn’t one consensus cause for the disorder. Among the contributing factors are muscle contractions in the intestine, issues with the nervous system, inflammation and bacterial changes in the gut. Medications can be given to alleviate symptoms and attempt to solve one of these causes, but for most people medication will only be a temporary reprieve.

Thankfully acupuncture is available to treat a condition like IBS. Regardless of the cause in the patient’s body, acupuncture’s ability to regulate the qi in the body and promote self-healing will help an IBS sufferer begin to feel better in a short amount of time. Recently, an independent study concluded that acupuncture in conjunction with herbs and moxibustion has been reliably proven to provide relief from IBS. The study found that this holistic treatment improved symptoms and pain significantly. Umbilical pain, bloating and the frequency of bowel movements all dropped in those studied who received the treatment.

“Participants in the cured group showed a complete resolution of umbilical pain and bloating, and had their bowel movements reduced to once daily,” the study said, while even those who were not fully cured saw marked improvement.

Living with the unfortunately common ailment IBS can really effect quality of life. Acupuncture is uniquely suited to improving IBS symptoms naturally, safely and with lasting effects.

An Acupuncture Skeptic Gets Converted on the High Seas

Cindy Leyland was excited for her vacation. Ten days away with her husband on a cruise was just what the doctor ordered. But unfortunately for Cindy, the day leading up to her vacation were stressful and hectic, and her fibromyalgia and associated pain began to ramp up. Cindy’s heel was suffering from plantar fasciitis, and her right knee was bothering her from a recent hip operation.

Cindy made it on the flight, but she knew her vacation wasn’t going to go as planned with the amount of pain she was in. She tried her best to enjoy herself, but right away she knew her pain was going to put a damper on the proceedings. Luckily, her cruise ship had a solution, one that her husband urged her to try: acupuncture.

Cindy had tried acupuncture once before, a single session many years ago, but didn’t think that it was for her. So while she wasn’t very optimistic, she gave it a shot anyway. After inserting needles into Cindy’s knee and ankle, the acupuncturist followed up. “The doctor declared that my chi was blocked from my waist down in both legs and he put in more needles!” Cindy wrote. “He pounded a bit on the back of my left leg and put a needle in the inside of my right wrist, which he then twisted a bit. YOUCH! It felt like I had been electrocuted.”

Of course, Cindy wasn’t electrocuted, but she was indeed feeling the unblocking of her chi. While acupuncture doesn’t always work immediately and follow up sessions are always recommended, Cindy instantly felt better.

“I walked out of that spa with less pain than I had had in months, if not years. WOW!” Cindy said.  “And the next seven days were seven of the best days of my life.”

Fibromyalgia is one of the most common disorders ailing adult women, and Cindy’s resulting pain is too often treated with painkillers and other medications. These temporary fixes merely mask pain, wile acupuncture creates lasting relief because of its ability to balance the body’s energy. Cindy is just one of many folks who can benefit from consistent acupuncture. And her experience taking one more chance on acupuncture to save her vacation has converted her into a believer.

“I feel like my mind has been opened to an especially helpful treatment that I formerly ignored because of the cost and my own skepticism.”

New Study Shows Acupuncture's Effectiveness At Easing Pain From Cancer and Cancer Treatments

As the medical world continues to research and fight for a cure for cancer, millions of patients around the world have to deal with the daily discomfort of the insidious disease. What makes dealing with cancer so difficult is that not only do the direct symptoms cause pain and discomfort, but so often many of the treatments, like chemotherapy, bring with them a whole other host of side effects.

We don’t pretend that acupuncture is a some sort of cure-all. However, we do know that acupuncture has wide-ranging benefits for all of our health and wellness needs, is non-invasive, and is effective mainly because it naturally spurs the body on to heal itself. While acupuncture will only be a part of any cancer patient’s treatment, we’re learning more and more that it should be a key complementary part of every cancer patient’s treatment, as the recently released results of a new study show.

A 2016 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas determined that acupuncture “was associated with immediate and longitudinal significant improvement across a range of symptoms commonly experienced by individuals during cancer care.” Among the symptoms that the 375 patients reported the best improvements in after receiving acupuncture were dry mouth, nausea, and spiritual pain. But that wasn’t all — every symptom observed in the study showed some level of improvement, including hot flashes, numbness/tingling, and overall fatigue.

Whether its symptoms from cancer itself or from the direct treatments for cancer, acupuncture proved once again to be an effective way to reduce pain and discomfort. It’s imperative that we get the word out about how effective acupuncture is at helping cancer patients live as best of a life as they possibly can. The fight against cancer is a difficult one, and while acupuncture won’t be a cure all, it will definitely help.

Thaw Out Your Frozen Shoulder With Acupuncture

It’s getting dark earlier, and winter and all the colder weather that follows is on its way. When things freeze over, you’ll need a little help thawing out—while acupuncture can’t help you clear your steps or driveway, it can certainly warm things up for those suffering from frozen shoulder.

What, exactly, is frozen shoulder? You may not have heard of this ailment, but it affects over 200,000 Americans each year. It’s more common in women than men, and usually affects those aged 40-60. Additionally, those who suffer from diabetes are more susceptible to it. Frozen shoulder is when the shoulder capsule becomes so thick and tight that the shoulder becomes incredibly painful and can be difficult or even impossible to move.

If not treated, frozen shoulder can heal on it’s own…but it can take a very long time. The frozen stage, where the shoulder is very limited in movement, can last anywhere from 4-12 months, while the thawing stage, the gradual return of movement and elimination of pain, can last 6 months to 2 years. That is far too long.

Thankfully, acupuncture is known as an effective holistic remedy for speeding up the thawing process and healing frozen shoulder. An study conducted in Guangdong, China, revealed that acupuncture alleviates pain and restores range of motion to the shoulder for patients with frozen shoulder. Subjects receiving the local acupuncture points had a 71.8% total effective rate, showing improved pain and better range of motion in the shoulder. Patients receiving abdominal acupuncture had a 92.4% total effective rate. 

Specifically, the study concluded, “This underscores acupuncture’s ability to provide anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and recuperative effective actions.”

So if you or someone you know is suffering from frozen shoulder, let them know that cozying up to the fire this winter won’t help them out. Acupuncture will!

Why Acupuncture Should be Offered in the ER

Chances are that, unfortunately, either you or someone you know has visited the emergency room recently. Visits to the ER have become incredibly common and are continuing to rise. A study released last year showed that in 2014, ER visits spiked to 141 million in the United States, a record-high. And the University of Maryland School of Medicine estimates that nearly half of all medical care in the country is delivered by emergency room departments. That number is even higher for women and minorities.

The stark fact is that ER visits are all too common. And there are a few things that are just about consistent across all emergency rooms—the use of NSAIDs and painkillers, and a lack of choice for patients. Slowly but surely, a welcoming change may be on the horizon.

For 4 years, Adam Reinstein, LAc, has been administering acupuncture in the ER of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Five days a week, Reinstein operates in the busy, hectic environment that doesn’t seem well suited for acupuncture. But Reinstein, who used to practice communcity acupuncture, has adapted by offering shorter sessions (15-20 minutes), focusing on points in the hands, arms, ears, head, feet, and lower legs, and sees patients only once. The ER can be a stressful place, and Reinstein often focuses on helping patients to feel more comfortable.

"By and large, patients get some relaxation and decrease of anxiety or discomfort. Others get some pain relief or nausea relief...What I do just fits in with everything else that is going on [in the ER],” Reinstein said. “One talks a lot about patient-centered care but usually patients have little or no choice.”

We wholeheartedly agree with Reinstein, and would love to see more emergency departments offer acupuncture to their patients. In addition from it being a better treatment for pain, anxiety, and nausea than medication, acupuncture could also help patients recover more quickly, which allows ER staffs to work more efficiently and cut down wait times.

Acupuncture in the ER? It’s a win-win.

Why Acupuncture is Your Best Bet to Beat That Bad Back

If you’ve felt some back pain recently, you’re not alone. About one in four adults in the US have experienced some sort of back pain over the last 3 months. And many times, particularly as we age, it’s difficult to pinpoint how or why you’ve got that soreness, knot or pulsating pain.

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For years, many of us, whether under the orders of doctors or on our own, have reached for the ibuprofen or acetaminophen bottle to try and relieve back pain. But now, the American College of Physicians is recommending a new first line of defense against back pain before trying any sort of medication—natural therapies, among which acupuncture is one of them.

 

“There’s been a push over the past few years in my practice and in many others to push away from medications ― particularly opioids,” Allen Chen, director of physiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian/The Spine Hospital said to the Huffington Post, adding that this sea change to natural remedies has been long overdue.

 

There are a number of natural, physiological processes that those who suffer from back pain can opt for, including physical therapy, massage, and yoga. Acupuncture, however, is particularly suited to remedy back pain safely and for the long term because of its ability to treat root causes of pain and restore balance in the body.

 

For pain like back aches and soreness, licensed acupuncturists are able to “stimulate the proper points, especially polar points on the hands and feet, that rush blood back to the nervous system to assist the body in inflammation reduction," says Mona Ahdoot Dan, an LA-based acupuncturist. This act is similar to what medications are designed to do, but acupuncture is able to do this without the harmful side effects that painkillers and opioids come with.

 

Thankfully, with the ACP recognizing the benefits of holistic treatments like acupuncture, more and more people will stay away from harmful medications when their back starts acting up.

 

A doctor comes around on acupuncture

Some folks remain skeptical about acupuncture. That’s understandable. In the western world, and in particular the United States, the practice is still relatively new and its popularity is still growing. Compared to acupuncture’s use in the east, and to traditional medicine’s history in the west, acupuncture here is still in its infancy in some ways.

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Acupuncture is a safe, reliable, and natural way to relieve pain, and in particular, address the root causes of pain and discomfort. But its methods are not taught in western medical schools, so many doctors remain skeptical of acupuncture’s benefits and efficacy.

Dr. Conor Lavelle was one of those doctors. An emergency room doctor, Dr. Lavelle sees many patients who are complaining of chronic pain stemming from diseases like fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and more. Dr. Lavelle refers to the “pain ladder” introduced by the World Health Organization in 1986, as a guide for doctors ascribing pain management to patients. Near the top of that ladder are prescription opioids, which we now know can be damaging. But for years, doctors have thrown medications at pain problems.

“Pain is one of the most common reasons patients come to the ER,” Dr. Lavelle writes in Quartz. “Yet, we as doctors are notoriously poor at managing it. We undertreat it, sometimes sending patients home from the hospital when they’re still very uncomfortable, even to the point of being unable to perform important daily tasks like cooking and cleaning.”

Lavelle had always been aware of acupuncture, but hadn’t tried it and wouldn’t suggest it to patients because of a perceived lack of consensus around its benefits. Over the years, that has changed. Numerous studies have been done showing acupuncture’s ability to treat a wide range of pain symptoms and their root causes. So Dr. Lavelle went to try acupuncture for themself.

“After my acupuncture session, I left the clinic feeling noticeably better than I had before I arrived,” Dr. Lavelle writes. “I felt loose. My head was clear. My shoulder wasn’t sore.”

As the American Pain Society endorsed acupuncture for chronic pain management, and after experiencing the benefits firsthand, Lavelle is no longer a skeptic.

“When a frustrated patient, walking the dark path toward opioid addiction, asks me if they should try acupuncture, at least now I can tell them it’s worth a shot.”

If you suffer from chronic pain, acupuncture is more than just worth a shot.