Tui-na, Shiatsu, Pain Neutralization, Oriental Massage Techniques Provide Diagnosis and Treatment Without Needles

The human body has many built-in resources for healing. Over the centuries, many methods to elicit these healing responses have been discovered, developed, tested, and proved. Acupuncture and moxabustion are examples of two such techniques that are helpful in the treatment of many conditions through a complex and corrective healing response stimulated by the needles and heat.

From one perspective, the use of this form of physical therapy might seem exotic because this method of stimulating a healing response seems unfamiliar in our culture.

In much the same way, coin rubbing or cupping might seem bizarre to those who focus solely on the tool used in treatment.

What is actually more important is the realization that our inherent mechanisms of healing can be stimulated by a variety of mechanisms. Skillful attention to these built-in responses has the potential to relieve many types of suffering and assist the body's healing processes.

Why such systems exist is a question for the philosophers. How to understand the best ways to incorporate this knowledge into medicine is a question for the physicians. Most traditional medical systems have evolved in a way that recognizes and incorporates these truths into practice.

The different modalities of traditional Chinese, Japanese and other Oriental medicines often have wide ranging effects: Cupping, shiatsu, bloodletting, massage, and many other physical techniques can add significant benefits when combined with acupuncture and moxabustion. For some disorders, a practitioner or a patient may find that these "hands-on" techniques may be preferable to the use of needles and fire.

In particular, for many disorders of muscle, tendon, and ligaments, I find tui-na (sometimes spelled as "tuina") to be particularly useful. In many cases, disorders that are diagnosed as disorders of the joint are really due to the soft tissues and muscles around the joint. Joint pain in the neck, back, knee and shoulder may in reality reflect stress on the joints from imbalanced or injured muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Another often overlooked source of pain disorders is an imbalanced posture, either sitting and standing, as well as positional and repetitive stress injuries from work and occupational demands. Yet, training in postural awareness, such as with the Alexander method, are rarely taught in medical schools.

The Western focus on direct treatment or replacement of joints reflects the modern training of orthopedic surgeons, as well as the fact that few physicians are trained to evaluate and treat the complex interaction of the tendons, ligaments, and muscles that make so many complex movements of joints possible.

A vast number of muscle disorders result in pain

The Healing Power of Touch

The traditions of Oriental medicine also include many ways in which skin-to-skin treatment activates these mechanisms. Yang and yin forms of tui-na, shiatsu, as well as other forms of massage and activation of reflexes have been studied and used for centuries.

Practitioners of Chinese medicine know that disorders of qi depression and stagnation causing acute and chronic pain, headaches, joint pain, stiffness and depressed function are often best treated through careful manipulation of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints.

Many medical experts in the West, such as Rolf, Heller, Alexander, Travell, and Bowen, have recognized the essential value of working skillfully in the realm of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. But, modern doctors are generally too busy to diagnose by touch, much less treat in such a low-tech manner.

It takes some time to examine and treat the musculoskeletal system and find the specific solution required. Doctors who have to see many patients an hour will be unable to fully utilize these powerful but simple methods.

the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the body are responsible for a  
great deal of pain sensation

Pain Neutralization Technique is a Modern Form of Tui-na with Powerful Potential

Developed by Stephen Kaufman, D.C., "P.N.T." is a frequently extremely effective method for addressing pain problems by eliminating both trigger zones and "ah-shi" points.

A trigger zone is an area, usually in a muscle, but sometimes in a boney area, that is painful when pressed. In addition, stimulating a trigger zone can sometimes send pain sensations to an area that seems remote from the spot that is examined.

"Ah-shi" points, on the other hand, are painful when pressed, but do not refer pain very far from the point.

Dr. Kaufman, with his tremendous efforts to develop PNT, has affirmed that the ancient truths about disease passed down to us from our teachers in many cultures is correct: Doctors can rely on the integrity of the body's healing systems to address both diseases of the musculoskeletal system as well as other problems in other organ systems which interface with the channels, muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Although the modern study of these central nervous and neuroendocrine interfaces is still in its infancy in the West, pioneers such as Dr. Kaufman are investigating how to apply this knowledge right now to reduce the suffering of disease.

Painful Acupuncture Points and Diagnostic Points

A physician trained in acupuncture will find that some acupuncture points are tender when pressed. Other points are used diagnostically and can be found on the chest or ribcage, the abdomen, and the back. These may be sensitive, painful, or ticklish when touched. These findings, along with other specific examinations, helps the Orientally trained doctor understand the mechanism of the disease, and may suggest a treatment plan.

Unlike ah-shi and trigger points, acupuncture points tend to be found in the spaces between muscles or ligaments, although they also are sometimes found at locations where tendons attach the muscles to the bones.

Pain and discomfort are the most common reasons that people consult a doctor. But, despite the vast technology available to modern physicians, determining the actual disorder that is causing pain is often impossible. Consequently, contemporary pain treatment emphasizes altering pain pathways with surgery or drugs. Inasmuch as most of these pathways are poorly understood, therapy tends to be a series of trials of various treatments in the hope that something will work.

There is also the limitation that the causes of the pain are rarely corrected with these treatments.

Drug therapy is expensive, and side effects and interactions with other drugs and foods are commonly encountered. Surgery necessarily involves risks from the procedure, the anesthesia required, and immediate post surgical risks such as blood clots and infection. The condition may be unchanged by surgery or even made worse, and complications from surgery may create new causes of pain.

Musculoskeletal disorders are a very common source of pain. They can contribute to other pain disorders even when doctors don't think they are the primary problem. Sometimes, strange symptoms which are not painful can also be treated through the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Some aspects of headache, vertigo, numbness, neuropathy, and dysesthesia can be treated by methods which primarily address the musculoskeletal tissues.

Techniques such as shiatsu, tui-na, or pain neutralization are completely compatible with those of acupuncture and moxabustion, and probably all utilize the same inherent healing mechanisms of the body.

Tui-na, Shiatsu, Therapeutic Massage, and Pain Neutralization Techniques Do Not Require Needles

For patients who are nervous about the use of acupuncture needles, or for children who may have had some difficult experiences with the medical profession, tui-na, shiatsu and P.N.T. provide an option that should be considered.

Physicians rarely touch patients in modern practice, either to diagnose or to treat. This has been a great loss to both doctors and patients.

When these manual thereapies are appropriate, elimination of painful ah shi points is very rapid. Within seconds, patients can detect a decrease in the pain at the ah-shi or trigger point. As these painful areas are neutralized and eliminated, changes occur throughout the nervous system.

Painful symptoms and some dysfunctions start to reduce as the areas of palpatory pain are gradually eliminated. Patients should notice some changes after a few sessions. Some chronic or disorders of long standing may require ongoing treatment, just as with Western medical treatment or surgery. Unfortunately, it is also true that some conditions will not respond to manual therapies such as shiatsu and tui-na alone.

Unlike drugs, surgical techniques and nerve blocks, tui-na, shiatsu, or P.N.T. do not create side effects, nor are there significant dangers to worry the patient or alarm the doctor.

Some trigger or ah-shi points may be a little tender to press, and the corrective massage maneuvers that are necessary may require some moderate pressure on muscles, tendons, or ligaments, but the treatment itself is not painful.

Painful Emotions Also Need Treatment

One of the advantages of Oriental medicine is that a capable physician will always address the emotional aspect of pain. Neurology and psychiatry never developed as separate disciplines in the Orient, and all Oriental medical systems emphasize the need for practitioners to be aware of the interplay of feelings and how spiritual and emotional imbalances can lead to disease.

Feelings of fear, impatience, anxiety, anger, sorrow, or worry are always associated with acute and chronic diseases of all types, and it is the responsibility of the physician to include these in the plan of treatment.

Acupuncture, moxabustion, and dietary methods, including herbal medicine, are the mainstays of treatment for emotional distress at the level of the channels or internal organs, in addition to direct attention to the pain. Traditional meditational practices or certain "cognitive" exercises, as they are known in the West, can also be very beneficial.

Pain Neutralization Techniques can also have powerful effects on the emotional causes of pain as well as on the emotional imbalances which result from either acute or chronic pain.

If you would like to know more about Pain Neutralization Technique or any of many methods that we use to address chronic disorders and pain, call us during office hours and we will be happy to discuss these with you.