In Chinese Medicine Qi and blood need to flow unimpeded within the meridians. Disruption in this process can cause stagnation. It can also allow wind, cold and damp etc, to invade the channels. The result is blockage, which leads to pain, discomfort, limitation of movement, inflammation, and impairment.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries in the treatment of pain conditions. Pain in traditional Chinese medical terms is due to a blockage of energy in the meridians that flow through the body. Not only does acupuncture treat the pain but it also stimulates rejuvenation and regeneration of tissue in the area of the pain .
Modern research is only just starting to understand how acupuncture works in the treatment of pain conditions. Previous research in the west has demonstrated that acupuncture can benefit many conditions that have pain as a symptom.
In one study, as revealed in the Annals of Internal Medicine, it was shown that acupuncture can treat osteoarthritis of the knee. In another study it was found that acupuncture can help relieve tension headaches and migraine.
Some of the pain conditions that have been shown to have favorable success with acupuncture include
Lower back pain
Scientific evidence has demonstrated that acupuncture relieves pain by the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killing chemicals, and that acupuncture affects part of the brain that releases serotin, a brain transmitter that controls mood.
Japanese acupuncture uses very shallow insertion of needles and can be just as effective and sometimes even more effective as deeper needling techniques. This mechanism is not understood in modern scientific terms.
Harvard Medical School stresses that patients seeking acupuncture to help any pain conditions should consult an experienced licensed acupuncturist. In the United States it is suggested to see a member who has been accredited by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. In New Zealand, acupuncturists who are members of the New Zealand Register of Acupuncturists Inc have all had at least 4 years full time training and are accredited ACC treatment providers
Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) affects an estimated 2 percent of the population. Conventional therapies are limited in the success of treating this complex and unexplained condition. Current treatment is largely comprised of prescribing different medications for the varying symptoms in a trial and error approach. Research shows that as many as 90 percent of people with fibromyalgia have turned to complementary and alternative medicine to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture, in particular, has become a popular treatment choice and has shown to be an effective treatment for FMS.
What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?
Fibromyalgia is a medically unexplained syndrome characterized by chronic widespread pain, a heightened and painful response to pressure, insomnia, fatigue, and depression. While not all affected persons experience all associated symptoms, the following symptoms commonly occur together:
• chronic pain • debilitating fatigue • difficulty sleeping • anxiety and depression • joint stiffness • chronic headaches and jaw pain • difficulty swallowing • dryness in mouth, nose, and eyes • hypersensitivity to odors, bright lights, and loud noises • inability to concentrate (called "fibro fog") • incontinence • irritable bowel syndrome • numbness or tingling in the fingers and feet • painful menstrual cramps • poor circulation in hands and feet (called Raynaud's phenomenon)• restless legs syndrome
Fibromyalgia is diagnosed when there is a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months and pain when pressure is applied to at least 11 of 18 designated tender points on the body. This condition does not result in any physical damage to the body or its tissues and there are no laboratory tests which can confirm this diagnosis.
Symptoms often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases there appears to be no triggering event. Women are more prone to develop the disorder than are men, and the risk of fibromyalgia increases with age.
The Acupuncture Treatment
Oriental Medicine does not recognize fibromyalgia as one particular disease pattern. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual depending on their constitution, emotional state, intensity and location of their pain, digestive health, sleeping patterns and an array of other signs and symptoms. Therefore, if 10 people are treated with Oriental medicine for fibromyalgia, each of these 10 people will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs and different lifestyle and dietaryrecommendations.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - A chronic inflammatory disorder which effects the lining of the joints. It is an autoimmune disorder. Causes are unknown, but genetic factors may have some bearing. Acupuncture can reduce pain and inflammation, improve the immune system, and help prevent further progression.
Back pain– Many people have suffered with back pain. It can be both painful and debilitating. A study involving over 14,000 people with low back pain, showed greater success with acupuncture treatments, compared to standard medical treatment.
The initial visit involves a comprehensive consultation. This includes, tongue, pulse, and facial diagnosis, diet, nutrition and lifestyle assessment, past and present medical history. Depending on your diagnosis a treatment plan will be devised for you.
In most painful conditions there are varying degrees of inflammation. Foods which increase inflammation should be avoided, eg, sugar, sweets, cakes, biscuits, saturated fats , full fat dairy produce. Food allergies / intolerance’s can also trigger pain and inflammation. A food allergy / intolerance test may be advised. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts pressure on the joints etc, slowing recovery. The anti inflammatory diet is weight friendly. Foods which help inflammation include – oily fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, peppers, sweet potatoes, etc.
It is important that your diet contains the right amounts of nutrition, to maintain good health. Depending on your condition, specific nutrition, herbs, and food supplements can improve painful conditions. Examples include -
Omega 3 – Reduces inflammation throughout the body. Reduces pain and stiffness. Improves stamina and mobility. Alleviates muscle and joint soreness.
Vit D – Is deficient in many diets. Known as the sunshine vitamin, it is difficult to maintain adequate levels in climates like Ireland. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with chronic musculoskeletal pain, limb pain, and low back pain.
Vit B3 – Improves joint mobility and reduces inflammation.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin – Maintain joint health, renew and repair joint cartilage, and maintain the lubricating properties around the joints. They are widely used in the treatment of arthritis conditions.