The Five Top Reasons to Schedule an Appointment for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

1.) Injury

One of the more important indications for acupuncture and moxibustion (zhenjiu in Chinese), and tuina (tui ná) is acute injury to the muscles, ligaments and bones. Forces that push a joint out of its normal range will usually cause a complex set of injuries to the tendons and muscles around the joint that usually requires attention to several anatomic structures.

Impact injuries that cause bruising and bleeding should also be treated as soon as is practical. This includes injuries that result from athletic activities, exercise programs, and martial arts practices as well as from falls and motor vehicle accidents.

Injuries can also affect the nervous system and cause radiating pain or neuropathy. A forceful blow to the head, spinal cord, or tailbone (the coccyx) can affect the brain and the spinal cord, causing radiating pain or concussion.

In my practice I suggest established patients try to come in within 48 hours of any significant injury for evaluation.

2.) Post-Surgical Pain

Millions of surgical procedures are performed every year. In most cases, surgical scars heal and patients do well. However, chronic post surgical pain may affect as many as 1.5 million people each year in the United States.

Sometimes this pain lasts for years, and sometimes it is severe. It can also take many forms: if the original reason for the surgery was pain, the original pain may not be eliminated. In some cases this pain is more severe than it was before the surgery. Pain in new places may occur, as well as discomfort with activities that were previously fine. Unpleasant sensitivity of scars and areas around surgery should also be treated.

Damage to nerves during surgery or as a result of the original trauma may result in a chronic regional pain syndrome that is extremely difficult to tolerate and treat. Various names have been given to this disorder, including reflex sympathetic dystrophy, causalgia syndrome, Sudek’s atrophy, algoneurodystrophy, as well as others.

Estimates of the likelihood of having chronic pain after a procedure ranges widely among studies, but some estimates are as follows:

Vasectomy 37%

Hip replacement 12%

Dental surgery 5-13%

Chest surgery 5-35%

Coronary bypass 30-50%

Mastectomy 11-57%

Inguinal hernia repair 5-63%

Caesarean section 6-55%

Gall bladder removal 3-50%

If you or anyone you know still has pain after surgery, no matter how long ago it happened, please ask me about it: Many patients suffer with this pain because they don’t realize it can be effectively treated.

Although no treatment works for everyone, I have found that even longstanding post surgical pain syndromes can respond to acupuncture, moxibustion and tuina.

3.)Musculoskeletal Pain

Day to day workplace accumulated injury, as well as pain that occurs with movement or certain postures is another strong candidate for Oriental medicine. Many pains that are diagnosed as “arthritis” are actually disorders in the tendons, muscles, and channels that surround the joints and make movement possible.

In contrast to Western medical treatment, which treats disorders of the connective tissue of the body with systemic drugs, the focused treatment of Oriental medicine provides a low risk alternative.

4.) Emotional Stress

In contrast to Western medical practice, emotional disorders and physical disorder are viewed in Oriental medicine (Chinese, Ayurvedic, Tibetan, Unani, and Ifa) as fundamentally interconnected. Recent trends to recognize this in modern medical training and practice are far less sophisticated in practice than the centuries of application found in all traditional Oriental medical systems.

Emotional imbalances of anger, sorrow, worry, fear, and anxiety are always present simultaneously with significant physical disorders, and most chronic emotional problems will result in physical signs and symptoms. Emotionally traumatic experiences from the past can persist as post traumatic stress syndrome, which can also include a variety of symptoms. Stressful work or family situations are also a common cause of physical and emotional complaints.

In these situations, utilizing the obsolete 19th century system of “modern” medicine is cumbersome and inefficient, requiring coordinated treatment by separate specialists. Even under the rare circumstances when this is possible, I have found Oriental medicine to be far more sophisticated and effective, without risking the unwanted and sometimes counterproductive side effects of psychiatric drugs.

5.) Complex or Unresponsive Syndromes

Much to the detriment of practitioners and patients, the modern emphasis on “standardized” diagnosis and treatment has created tunnel vision when it comes to complex and chronic disorders: That is to say, in most people who come to doctors for relief.

The dissatisfaction with specialists who only see what they expect to see led to a mid 20th century movement towards the “primary care” specialist, who was supposed to see the whole picture and oppose the tendency to classify diseases and patients in narrow and unrealistic ways.

In practice this has not worked out for two reasons: physician training in medical schools and hospitals has not advanced beyond the 19th and early 20th century specialty definitions, and economic pressures on practitioners to create more cash flow for the medical centers and insurance companies.

Related to the pressure to create more billable events in less time is the pernicious development of electronic records, which limits physician clinical input to arbitrary options. In this way, the multiple choice doctor of the 20th century has transformed into the template doctor of the 21st.

The less time that a doctor spends evaluating and thinking about a patient, the more simplistic their approach will be: A September 6, 2016 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that doctors spend twice as much time on electronic record keeping as they do with patients.

Complex multisystem disorders, as well as disorders that are not easily classified or written off by the average physician as “not real” or not part of the worldview that they have been trained to have, are best addressed with the more comprehensive and unifying theory and practice of Oriental medicine.

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