Pain Relief and Musculo-Skeletal Disorders
How does acupuncture stop pain? – The Eastern Medicine View
In Kiiko Acupuncture, nothing in the human body can function independently. Pain is the body’s warning alarm: it tells you something is wrong. If you ignore your body’s alarm, similarly to the fire alarm in your house, severe problems can soon form.
Human body functions are dependent on the life force energy-Qi (pronounced chee). Qi and blood flow through the meridian system, nourishing and protecting body tissues and helping them maintain their functions. If, however, the body is beset with disease or injury, normal pathological symptoms will appear and affect the organs and meridian. Once the meridian is blocked, the Qi and blood are not able to move along smoothly. As a result, the affected area will not be able to get enough nutrition. In response, the patient feels pain, tingling, stiffness, bloating, or numbness.
The meridian system is just like a network and each meridian is connected with a specific organ. The organ damage may show up from the meridian, and the local blockage of the meridian can affect the internal organ as well. That is why when treating a pain condition with acupuncture, the doctor will not usually focus only on the local pain, but also (and sometimes more importantly) work to rebalance and harmonize the whole body.
Meridian blockage can be caused by external reasons such as excessive cold, wind, dampness, dryness, fire (heat) or injury. It also can be caused by an emotional change such as anger, sadness, fear, stress, depression, or an internal organ deficiency or malfunction. Figuring out what exactly is the cause of the pain and which meridian is blocked is extremely important for treatment. Generally speaking, relieving blood and Qi stagnancy, balancing the energy, nourishing the tissue, increasing circulation and building up deficient organs are all ways that acupuncture treats pain. It can be used to correct the flow of Qi, blood and moisture in organ networks in order to avert pathological factors. The treatment sessions incorporate acupuncture, acu-therapies and corrective exercises. Pain rating algorithms and strength testing are used to track your progress and improvement.
Back pain is by far the most common reason people seek a health care practitioner. The main causes of back pain come from strains (tears in muscles caused by sudden force), sprains (overstretching one or more ligaments in the back), herniated disks (a disc that bulges out of its normal place between two vertebrae putting pressure on nerves) and sciatica (term that describes pain extending from the low back down into the buttocks and leg due to irritation of a larger nerve in the spine). These can happen from injuries, improper lifting, poor posture, weakening of supporting muscles and ligaments and degenerative changes.
How does Acupuncture help back pain?
Acupuncture is best known in general for its ability to stop pain. It is effective in treating both acute and chronic back pain because it lessens the pain response locally as it relaxes nearby muscles. A negative pain cycle is broken when muscle spasms stop, adjacent muscle groups no longer compensate and the range of motion increases as pain levels decrease. Acupuncture accomplishes this by:
- Relax muscles, which slows spasms until they release
- Decrease local inflammation by increasing blood circulation
- Reduce swelling
- Stimulates the release of natural endorphins that diminish the pain response
Acute Back Pain
In an acute situation, you need to first determine how severe the injury is. If it is serious, or you are unsure, go straight to the nearest hospital for proper evaluation. If the acute back pain is not that severe, the sooner you receive acupuncture treatments, the better the results. The reason is simple: it boosts the body’s natural healing mechanisms while inhibiting negative pain cycles from ever starting. This enables acupuncture to drastically reduce time to recovery and stop injuries from becoming chronic.
Chronic Back Pain
Back pain that continues or lingers more than 3 months becomes chronic. It is important to know why the pain is there. Narrowing of the spine or a tumour pressing on lumbar spinal nerves is a medical emergency. Therefore, it is recommended to receive a complete Western medical evaluation and diagnosis, including x-rays and MRIs when necessary. Chronic back pain that has been properly evaluated, and that does not respond to conventional treatments, almost always improves with acupuncture treatments. It does not matter how long the pain has persisted, acupuncture can still provide noticeable positive improvements, if not complete resolution of the back pain. This is all accomplished without the use of any over-the-counter medications or pharmaceuticals.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
Acupuncture can be a very effective solution when treating most neck and shoulder problems. Muscle tension and stiffness are very common concerns, especially of people who work in an office. Sitting in front of a computer and typing for extensive periods of time causes a lack of circulation in the tissue and fatigue of the muscles involved. Neck stiffness can be also aggravated by other common reasons, many of which can be effectively treated with acupuncture.
At the top of your neck, just below the hairline, there is an important acupuncture point called fuchi (GB20) which has been known to be closely connected to the eye. If you watch a computer screen or television for long periods of time and continuously strain your eyes, tightness can develop in this area, and sometimes a tight muscle mass form. This area can also become quite tense with prolonged periods of thinking or mental concentration.
As a result, tightness at the top of the neck can influence autonomic nervous functioning and prolonged period of tension can cause a various symptom such as headache, lack of concentration, poor memory, insomnia or irritability. Other common sites of muscle stiffness that can be treated with acupuncture include the large muscle between the neck and the shoulder joint (the upper trapezius) and the muscles between the shoulder blades.
Acupuncture and Sciatica
Sciatica is the name given to a painful condition that is characterized by pain that begins in the lower back and moves down the large sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back and down the back of the leg. There are several causes for this condition including inflammation of the nerve itself. In some cases, it is caused by overexertion and sometimes by putting too much pressure on the nerve simply by sitting in a poor position.
The good news is that sciatica usually clears up on its own after a period of time. In a few rare cases, the condition becomes chronic however in most cases, the chronic conditions can be traced to actual traumatic damage to the lower back or spine or to the nerve itself. The treatment is usually centred on relief of the pain.
Sciatica responds very well to acupuncture which has a very good record for the relief of unspecific pain and the reduction of inflammation. In fact, sciatica and acupuncture make such a good condition and treatment match that some people find that they can bring about some pain relief and quicker healing times with the mere application of acupressure to the correct points.
Sciatica is one of those ailments that really does seem to call for the use of alternative medicines. It is often treated by chiropractors as well as physical therapists. What makes acupuncture such a good choice for the treatment is that the diagnosis method of Japanese Kiiko Acupuncture will look well past the pain, which it will see as merely a symptom, to the underlying cause. This will suggest a program of treatment that will include relief of pain and increased healing, but will also address an overall plan of diet, exercise, and herbal supplements designed to prevent its return.
Since most incidents of sciatica are not life threatening, nor are they usually of long duration, the taking of chemical pain killers that might have side effects does not seem to be the most logical choice to one who cares about the overall health of his body. Acupuncture for the treatment of sciatica has the advantage of being safe and the virtual lack of adverse side effects seems to point to it as a more logical choice.
Headaches, Migraines and Dizziness
The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives. Acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause. Japanese Kiiko Acupuncture have been used to relieve Headaches and Migraines, as well as their underlying causes, for thousands of years and is a widely accepted form of treatment for headaches in our society.
Dizziness may range from a very slight dizziness, sometimes on changing posture, to very severe vertigo with loss of balance when everything around seems to be spinning. The term ‘dizziness’ in Japanese Kiiko also includes the very common sensation of ‘mussiness’ or fuzziness’ and a heavy feeling as if the head was full of cotton wool with inability to think properly and concentrate. In Western medicine, a diagnosis of vertigo or Meniere’s disease may be given which can be treated just as successfully.
The modality has observed that emotions such as anger, frustration, resentment, bottled-up hatred can all cause dizziness. This type of dizziness is known as ‘Liver Yang Rising’. It is the Liver organ that is affected, and an imbalance will cause energy to suddenly rise to the head and cause dizziness. This type of dizziness can be quite severe, depending on just how much the Liver is impacted. Dizziness can also appear after many years of overworking and/ or excessive sexual activity. Gradually the body becomes depleted of energy and dizziness occurs.
Diet has an important part to play in this condition as well. If the digestive system is weakened for whatever reason and the patient has a diet rich in food which is difficult for the body to digest, then the digestive system becomes ‘clogged up’. This results in the production of ‘Damp’ or ‘Phlegm’ which can be seen on the tongue as a thick white/ yellow coating. This Phlegm lodges in the head and gives rise to a type of dizziness which is often very severe and can come on suddenly. There may also be blurred vision and a sensation of mussiness and heaviness of the head. Consumption of greasy foods and dairy products can be main sources for this dizziness.
These are the main causes of dizziness. Each requires a different treatment approach and appropriate lifestyle/ dietary changes