Monday, October 19, 2015

Acupuncture Research: Acupuncture Relieves Neck Pain and Numbness

Acupuncture relieves neck pain and numbness and reduces levels of proinflammatory blood cytokines. Researchers conclude that warm needle acupuncture has a 92.05% total effective rate for the treatment of pain, numbness, and radiating discomfort due to cervical spondylosis with radiculopathy. This is a condition wherein there is spinal and soft tissue degeneration in the neck causing nerve impingement with subsequent pain or numbness. Acupoints for cervical radiculopathy. The symptoms often radiate from the neck to the shoulders, chest, back, and limbs. In addition, acupuncture successfully reduces blood levels of tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a) and the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 beta (IL1β) and interleukin 6 (IL6).

A total of 169 patients participated in the hospital study. Most of the patients experienced pain upon stretching and all patients had a limited range of motion of the neck. Patients demonstrated significant reductions in neck, shoulder, and limb pain as a result of acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture also significantly relieved numbness in these areas.

Two groups were compared. One group received conventional acupuncture and the other group received warm needle acupuncture. The warm needle acupuncture group received a combination of moxibustion with acupuncture and had a 92.05% total effective rate. The conventional acupuncture group had an 81.48% total effective rate.

One course of care comprised one treatment per day for six days. All patients received two courses of care. Both groups demonstrated a high effective rate with significant reductions in pain and numbness. In addition, both groups demonstrated significant improvements in range of motion. Needling of the neck.

A related study finds acupuncture more effective than Meloxicam, a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug, for the treatment of neck disc herniations. A total of 420 patients were investigated in a randomized controlled study.

Of the 207 electroacupuncture patients, 145 patients recovered in the short-term. Of the 208 drug patients, 93 recovered in the short-term. Improvements also occurred in an additional 53 acupuncture patients and 90 medication patients. The electroacupuncture group had 9 poor responses and the drug group had 25 poor responses to treatment in the short-term.

Poor results for electroacupuncture were limited to 2 patients and 14 medication patients had poor results in the long-term. The researchers note, “With a randomized controlled multi-centered large-sampled method, this study has shown that the EA (electroacupuncture) group was better than the medication group in comparing both short-term and long-term therapeutic efficacies.”

If you or someone you know suffers from neck pain or numbness, please contact us!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Acupuncture Facts and Fallacies

Acupuncture as a Chinese medical practice is centuries old. There are 71 meridians in the body. It is believed that in order to function properly the body needs to be in balance. Even today, there are many false beliefs about acupuncture:

1. Acupuncture is painful.
Most people find the placing of the needles comforting and relaxing. However if discomfort should occur, it will fade quickly and on its own. The needles are no thicker than a cat’s whisker. You may feel a sensation often described as heaviness, throbbing, or an electrical current once the needle is inserted. This is good as it is your body opening up.

2. No reasonable healthcare professional would recommend it.
Actually acupuncture is recommended by many medical institutions. The U.S. military uses acupuncture. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds many clinical research trial on acupuncture. Both NIH and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize acupuncture as a valid treatment for a wide range of conditions.

3. There is a conflict between medication, physical therapy, and other conventional medical treatments.
There is no conflict, they complement each other. Acupuncture can help improve conditions that you are being treated for.

4. Acupuncture is only helpful in treating pain.
Although acupuncture certainly helps in the treatment of pain, it by no means is the only condition it treats. Acupuncture can help with nausea or vomiting, morning sickness, hypertension, allergies, depression, infertility, addiction, and other conditions.

5. Acupuncture’s effects are psychological. It doesn’t really do anything.
Quite false. Studies show that during acupuncture, our brains begin to release chemicals such as endorphins (natural painkillers). Acupuncture has also proven to have an anti-inflammatory effect and help people’s immune system.

In Washington, an acupuncturist needs to be licensed by the state Board of Medicine.
I work with many clients - including pediatric and senior patients. Acupuncture is helpful with the many aches and pains we experience as we age. It is helpful with arthritis pain, joint difficulties, and other pains. As we've discussed before, acupuncture acts as a wonderful complement to mainstream medicine.

Many of my clients use acupuncture as a maintenance program for their health issues. It helps sustain them between visits with their primary care physician. If you are interested in learning if acupuncture can be helpful, you can call Health On Point.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Acupuncture treats many maladies, and that's the point: Words on Wellness

Dr. Daniel Neides, Cleveland Clinic 

LYNDHURST, Ohio--One patient encounter this year allowed me to really understand the inherent value in Eastern medicine practices – specifically acupuncture.

As I have mentioned before in this column, I attended medical school at THE Ohio State University, steeped in a Western medicine practice known as allopathic medicine. Any exposure to Eastern practices that would complement my training was limited. Which brings me back to my original point (pun intended – remember acupuncture).

The patient was a 36-year-old woman who I have cared for over the last several years. We had discussed concerns about infertility after she had previously met with her OBGYN. They had discussed hormonal therapy to try and induce ovulation but she did not want to put any type of medication into her body. She wanted to know if there were alternative or integrative approaches to hormones to assist with her desire to get pregnant.

Having looked at several studies on acupuncture and infertility, I offered the patient an opportunity to work with one of our acupuncturists. After several months of treatment, she stopped me in the hallway and almost jumped into my arms. She was pregnant and was so thankful that I had respected her concerns about hormonal therapy and that I found an integrative approach that worked for her. 

For more than 3,500 years, acupuncture has been providing relief to people around the world. Originally developed and practiced in China, this soothing therapy is today embraced by all patients who seek to alleviate symptoms caused by ailments that range from arthritis to migraines to the aftereffects of chemotherapy. It has even been proven effective in helping people stop smoking.

Acupuncture draws on the belief that an energy called Qi (pronounced "chee") circulates throughout our body, from the top of our head to the soles of our feet. When we experience good health, this energy flows unobstructed along pathways in the body called meridians. Each meridian is believed to be connected to a specific organ system, and when an energy flow is disrupted by a disease or an injury, illness or pain occurs. Acupuncture is then used to balance the flow of Qi and stimulate our body's natural ability to heal.

Acupuncture treatments involve placing hair-thin needles of varying lengths into certain areas of the skin. The number of slender needles – as few as three, as many as 20 – and the length of time they are kept in place depends on the ailment being treated. During the treatment, the needles may be twirled, warmed or electrically energized to intensify healing effects. Sessions with the acupuncturist take up to 60 minutes. Patients lie on a padded table, and soothing music, which allows for deep relaxation, plays in the background. Some patients may feel an electrical sensation during a treatment, which is good – that means healing energy is moving through the body.

How does acupuncture work to provide relief for so many painful conditions, you ask? Most acupuncture points are near nerves. When stimulated, the point sends a message along the nerve to the brain and spinal cord. This causes the release of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins – chemicals our own body produces that alter or eliminate the message of pain being delivered to the brain. The release of these "feel-good" mood-regulating chemicals makes people feel better physically and emotionally. And when someone's emotional outlook improves, their quality of life improves. Clinical studies have shown that acupuncture bolsters the body's nervous and endocrine (glandular) systems, and has an anti-inflammatory effect. And for my faithful readers, you know how much I preach about lowering inflammation to reverse disease. Acupuncture decreases the inflammation associated with different diseases and relieves muscle spasms and strain.

The World Health Organization endorses acupuncture, and clinical studies have shown it to be a beneficial treatment for many conditions, including chronic pain - migraines, neck and back pain, tendonitis, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, gastritis and constipation can be alleviated with acupuncture.

This practice has become a popular alternative for women's health issues like menstrual cramps, irregular or heavy periods, infertility and menopausal symptoms.

I have referred patients with emotional disorders like depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia for acupuncture – and have seen great success. Many of my oncology colleagues will refer patients for acupuncture to assist in reducing adverse reactions to chemotherapy, including fatigue, generalized pain, dry mouth, peripheral neuropathy, nausea and vomiting.

Acupuncture can also be a helpful tool in treating addictions to nicotine, alcohol, drugs, and food. When coupled with diet and exercise, acupuncture can be very helpful in decreasing one's appetite, allowing for intended weight loss.

I think it is important to remind ourselves that acupuncture is not intended to replace Western medicine practices. My practice is a "bridge" between the best of Western and Eastern practices. Acupuncture and traditional medicine complement one another. In many instances, patients appreciate that integrative medicine like acupuncture can work as an adjunct to a traditional treatment plan. Going back to my original example, my patient who used acupuncture to conceive will now see my colleague trained in allopathic medicine for her prenatal care and eventually delivery. For me professionally, this is a beautiful complement between two very different practices of medicine.

I am so blessed to have learned from and have access to some of the most talented integrative medical professionals in the United States. If you or a loved one suffers from any of the conditions listed above, consider a consult with me

Monday, November 17, 2014

Self-Care Techniques for Chronic Pain

Below is a continuation from our last blog post "Your Pain is in Your Head".

In addition to the use of acupuncture needles and herbs to address deficient Blood, an acupuncturist treating chronic-pain symptoms may suggest some simple self-care techniques.

Mindfulness, for example, teaches people to be inquisitive rather than judgmental about their ailments. It teaches us to approach our issues with an open mind and to let go of expectations. Cultivating greater self-awareness helps to bring balance to the body and mind. It also makes it easier to determine when medical intervention is necessary or when it may be okay to wait for the discomfort to pass.

Chronic pain sufferers often feel as though they are constantly in pain. But by using mindfulness to bring increased awareness to their symptoms, many realize that their pain actually has ups and downs, and sometimes disappears completely. 

Mindfulness is just one self-care technique that can be helpful in addressing the physical and emotional components of chronic pain. Your acupuncturist may also recommend pressure points that you can massage on yourself, self-administered moxibustion, movement therapies such as qigong, and changes to your diet. Ask your practitioner about steps you can take at home to support your acupuncture treatments.

If you suffer from chronic pain, pain medications may not be the only answer. Whether it’s an acupuncturist, naturopath, or Western medical doctor, find a clinician who is open minded and understands the importance of treating your body and mind as one. It may be just the change you’ve been hoping for.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Your Pain is in Your Head

Chronic pain is a growing and complicated issue. Millions of people feel stuck with their pain, suffering day in and day out with no resolution in sight. For many, acupuncture can shed light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

We know that the nature of chronic pain can vary widely, from musculoskeletal and neurogenic to gastrointestinal, urogenital, and gynecological. However, less attention gets paid to the emotional component of chronic pain, which can be caused and exacerbated by negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety.

Pain conditions that are emotionally charged—which, ultimately, describes all cases of pain, since being in pain produces negative thought patterns—often are unabated by the pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications that are so commonly prescribed.

Treating chronic pain effectively requires approaching it holistically. This is where acupuncture excels.

Acupuncture Approach to Chronic Pain
In Chinese medicine, there is no separation between mind and body. The two are inexorably linked, constantly influencing and regulating each other.

This philosophy runs counter to the way chronic pain is typically tackled by mainstream medicine, which tends to approach the problem strictly through a biological lens. Biologically, chronic pain is fairly straightforward. Misbehaving nerve impulses fire consistently, alerting the brain to the presence of inflammation or tissue damage.

When we look at chronic pain holistically, there’s more than nerve impulses to consider.

Our thoughts have a profound effect on how our bodies function. Negative thoughts and emotions increase stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine, which overtime can lead to systemic inflammation and a deterioration of overall health.

Emotions, like physical activity, require the expenditure of energy—energy that could otherwise be directed toward helping to heal the body. This is why you can have days when you barely exert yourself physically yet feel exhausted by the end.

Our emotions can wear us out. Many people are overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, and other types of emotional turbulence yet remain unaware that it’s contributing to their physical health problems.

Acupuncture refuses to let emotional turbulence fly under the radar.

In acupuncture theory, the Heart is at the center of all human life and plays a role in all emotions. Appropriately, another term for the Heart in Chinese medicine is Emperor. If the Emperor falls ill, he loses his ability to maintain order in his empire.

When we apply that metaphor to human health, it goes something like this: The Heart, ruler of the emotions, must be healthy for the rest of the body to follow suit. In other words, it is impossible to effectively treat chronic pain (or any other chronic condition) without addressing a person’s state of mind.

So, how do acupuncture and Chinese medicine address our states of mind?

One way is by choosing acupuncture points and prescribing herbal formulas that boost or tonify Blood. In acupuncture, negative emotions, particularly when chronic, create internal heat, which eventually consumes and depletes the nutritive Blood of the body.

Blood in acupuncture is more than just the red liquid that flows through our veins and arteries. Blood is viewed as a substance of nutrition and healing, the conduit through which our emotions flow.

When negative emotions become consuming, as is often the case in people who live with chronic pain, it can lead to signs of what acupuncturists call Blood deficiency. Symptoms may include dizziness, heart palpitations, insomnia, fatigue, poor memory, pale skin and tongue, weak pulse, and scanty or light menstrual periods.

Read "Self-Care Techniques for Chronic Pain" in our next post!

- Written by Adam Cantor

Monday, July 7, 2014

Acupuncture & Herbs Best Pharmaceutical For Headaches

A new study concludes that acupuncture combined with herbal medicine is more effective than drugs for the treatment of headaches. This confirms similar results found in a prior study wherein acupuncture was found comparable to drugs for the treatment of migraine headaches. The new study finds acupuncture combined with herbal medicine is effective for the treatment of vascular headaches whereas the prior study found acupuncture, as a standalone procedure, effective for the treatment of migraines. The results agree that acupuncture and/or acupuncture combined with herbs produce positive patient outcomes for headaches.

The prior study concluded that acupuncture is “of comparable efficiency to several proven drug therapies for the treatment and prevention of migraine(s).” The meta-analysis examined 25 randomized controlled trials involving a sample size of 3,004 patients. True acupuncture significantly outperformed simulated sham-acupuncture. In addition, true acupuncture was comparable to drug therapy for the treatment and prevention of migraines.

Acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine is more effective than nimodipine for relieving vascular headaches. These headaches include cluster headaches, migraines and toxic headaches. Migraines involve unilateral or bilateral head pain and may combine with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual auras. Toxic headaches occur during fevers. Cluster headaches are focal and recur in severe episodes.

The researchers conducted a randomized acupuncture continuing education investigation of 92 patients with vascular headaches at the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Chongqing Medical University (Sichuan). Group #1 received oral administration of nimodipine at 40 mg per dose, three times per day. Group #2 received acupuncture and a Chinese herbal formula. A course of treatment for both groups consisted of two weeks and the entire treatment lasted for two courses. 

After two courses of treatment, both groups achieved varied degrees of curative effects in terms of reducing headache attacks, duration of each attack and the intensity degree of headaches. The acupuncture group outperformed the drug group in all of the aforementioned indices. As a result, the researchers conclude that acupuncture combined with Huo Xue Qu Feng Tong Luo Tang is superior to nimodipine for the treatment of vascular headaches.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Acupuncture with electrical stimulation may treat muscle atrophy caused by kidney disease

Acupuncture may help treat muscle wasting that can occur as a result of kidney and other diseases, according to a study appearing in an the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The technique may be an attractive non-drug strategy that could help many patients.

Muscle atrophy is a serious consequence of spinal cord injuries and other traumas as well as diseases such as heart failure, chronic kidney disease (CKD), cancer, and diabetes. While there are several drug-related strategies to help prevent or treat muscle atrophy, there are no simple and effective treatments.
Xiaonan Wang, MD, Li Hu, MD (Emory University), and their colleagues looked to see if electrical stimulation delivered through acupuncture might lessen muscle atrophy associated with CKD. The investigators treated CKD mice and healthy control mice with the technique, which mimics resistance exercise by inducing muscle contraction, for 15 days.

The researchers found that the treatment improved muscle regeneration in mice by activating M2 macrophages, which are specialized immune cells that stimulate an anti-inflammatory response. Activation of M2 macrophages stimulates the insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling pathway, which promotes increased muscle protein synthesis and new muscle cell growth. "Our study explains how acupuncture is able to produce positive effects against muscle atrophy," said Dr. Wang. "Patients with severe disease are frequently unable to withstand routine daily physical activity, let alone therapeutic exercise. This treatment is an alternate way to achieve the benefits of exercise," she added.

The researchers noted that more work is needed to determine the optimal timing and intensity of LFES as a possible treatment for muscle atrophy.

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