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Musculoskeletal Pain Acupuncture Model

Poor Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal Pain Acupuncture ModelDealing with poor ergonomics (and prolonged sitting) is a challenge in many work environments and office spaces. A less-than-ideal workstation can compromise your posture and result in stressful repetitive movement and overuse of key muscle groups. If you develop musculoskeletal pain, the effects can carry over into the rest of your life and affect your ability to enjoy other physical or social activities. Many people seek relief through nerve block injections, physical therapy, or anti-inflammatory medications. Traditional Chinese Medicine can also help you manage musculoskeletal pain, especially if you want to avoid taking medication or if you have tried other treatment modalities without success.

Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain refers to discomfort in the bones, muscles, tendons, joints or ligaments. In addition to specific areas of discomfort, it can manifest in any number of ways, including fatigue, stiffness, general aches, muscle spasms, and difficulty sleeping. If poor ergonomics are a factor, you might be experiencing low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, or muscle strain in the neck or shoulders. Eye strain and headaches are likely to be issues as well.

Treating Musculoskeletal Pain with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

One of the side benefits of utilizing TCM for treating musculoskeletal pain is that it not only relieves discomfort—it can also lower stress and help you to sleep better. Three options you may want to consider: Acupuncture, Tuina, or Qigong.

  • Acupuncture. Treatment of pain is one of its primary uses. Acupuncture stimulates the energy points of the body to encourage blood flow and healing of inflammation. It also encourages the production of cortisol (a natural steroid in the body) and the release of endorphins (the natural “pain killers” generated by the body). Because Acupuncture can quickly reduce pain and swelling, the time required for injured tissue to heal is also reduced. Acupuncture can be used to treat painful areas throughout the body; needles may be placed locally or involve a combination of acupuncture points.
  • Tuina. Like acupuncture, Tuina (pronounced twee-nah) also helps with energy and blood flow in the body. It is a form of body work/massage that is characterized by a variety of rolling hand movements (pushing, pressing, kneading, grasping, and stretching). It is similar to acupuncture in that it is used to stimulate different points on the body to encourage healing, but Tuina involves the fingers and acupressure rather than the use of needles. It can also be used in conjunction with acupuncture as a pain treatment for specific joints, tendons, and muscles in the body. It is especially helpful for treating carpel tunnel syndrome, neck pain, and lower back pain. NOTE: Because Tuina targets specific areas of pain and can include deep-tissue massage, initial treatment of those areas may be uncomfortable or cause minor bruising.
  • Qigong. Qigong (pronounced chee-GONG) is another component of Traditional Chinese Medicine that helps with the flow of energy (qi) in the body, as well as the flow of oxygen. It involves the practice of slow and repetitive movement, meditation, and breathing (the exercises are based on a mind-body connection; you move with your breath.) These body movements are both simple and low-impact, allowing you to gently stretch your muscles and gradually increase mobility in areas affected by pain and tension. Gentle stretching can resolve pain in the hips, thighs, low back, elbows, and knees. Developing a dedicated Qigong practice is beneficial on several levels—it can help ease the depression and anxiety that often accompanies long bouts of pain, while at the same time conditioning your muscles and preventing new aches and pains from occurring.

TCM Has Your Back

Don’t let poor ergonomics get you down—or keep you down. There are a variety of ways to treat musculoskeletal pain beyond the general recommendations associated with Western medicine. Acupuncture, Tuina, and Qigong are highly effective methods for addressing pain complaints. If these treatments are completely new to you, give them a go—you’ll probably wish you’d tried them sooner!

Resources:

Tips For Setting Up an Ergonomic Workspace

Learn More About Tuina

Learn More About Qigong

 

Love is in the Air Balloons

Heart-Qi: Love and Health are in the Air

Today is Valentine’s Day and love is in the air! Whether you plan to acknowledge someone special with a box of chocolates, a dozen roses, or a stuffed pink teddy bear, don’t forget to lavish a little extra attention on your Heart-Qi! It’s easy to get swept up in the range of emotions surrounding romantic love, but protecting our hearts involves more than just protecting our feelings. We also need to protect the connection between our emotional state and our Qi.

The Heart-Qi Connection

Healthy Heart-Qi: Love is in the Air Balloons

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long recognized that physical health and emotional well-being are closely connected. This connection is based on Qi, which can be defined as both “life force energy” and “air/breath”. The energy (Qi) of the emotions you experience fall into seven distinct categories and correspond with one or more major organs (heart, liver, lung, spleen, and kidney).

An emotional imbalance might express itself as a physical ailment, or a physical ailment (linked to a specific organ) might express itself as a heightened or intense emotion. Keep in mind that the heart oversees all of the emotions. Any Qi imbalance within the organs of the body will ultimately affect the heart.

The Key Emotions of TCM

  • Joy (a negative state of agitation) affects the heart and may cause palpitations, spontaneous sweating, mood swings, and insomnia.
  • Anger affects the liver and may cause dizziness, migraines, high blood pressure, and depression.
  • Grief (sadness) affects the lungs and may cause chest tightness, asthma, and allergies.
  • Pensiveness (worry) affects the spleen and may cause loss of appetite, fatigue, and bleeding disorders.
  • Fear affects the kidneys and may cause night sweats, incontinence, and infertility.
  • Shock and fright can affect both the heart and kidneys and may cause headaches, constipation, and shoulder pain.

Preventing Emotional Turbulence

Strengthening the Heart-Qi makes it easier to resolve other Qi deficiencies that may be present in the body. If you are dealing with chronic physical ailments or you feel mentally and emotionally out of sorts, practicing self-care is a great place to start. Be mindful of what you eat. Exercise regularly. Get a good night’s sleep. Visit with cherished friends and loved ones.

And remember to schedule an acupuncture treatment! Detoxifying with acupuncture and herbal supplements can help relieve the physical and/or mental disharmony you may be experiencing. We’ll help you come up with a flight plan to maintain and support a healthy Heart-Qi!

Resources:

http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/principles/sevenemotions.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/emotions-in-traditional-chinese-medicine-88196

https://holosapiens.com/physiology/deficiency-of-heart-energy

https://www.sakara.com/blogs/mag/116573893-the-root-of-emotional-imbalance-according-to-your-organs

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Acupuncture and Breast Cancer: A Clinical Research Overview

shutterstock_154750382You have probably noticed little pink ribbons popping up everywhere and many people dressed in pink clothing. That’s right. It’s October. Breast Cancer Awareness month, and everyone is coming out to show their support. Whether you are a survivor yourself or you know someone who has had breast cancer, it has affected the lives of almost everyone.  Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and it is the second leading cause of death among women.  One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Research and studies show that acupuncture can help to:

Reduce nausea and vomiting

Decrease fatigue

Control hot flashes

Minimize and lessen pain

I have also found acupuncture to be effective in helping with the healing process and also reducing scar tissue post breast reconstructive surgery.

 

Nausea/Vomiting:

The Journal of the American Medical Association published an article in 2000 on the effectiveness of acupuncture, specifically electro-acupuncture, on managing emesis (vomiting). In the study, 104 women receiving high doses of chemotherapy for breast cancer were chosen. All subjects were given anti-nausea medication. There were 3 groups. Those that received acupuncture with electrical stimulation, acupuncture without electrical stimulation, and no acupuncture. Those that had acupuncture experienced significantly less episodes of nausea/vomiting than those who didn’t receive any acupuncture at all.

Researchers at Duke University published an article in Sept. 2002 in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia. The study showed that acupuncture worked better than the anti-nausea medication ondansetron, more commonly known as Zofran, in alleviating postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) after major breast surgery, such as a mastectomy.  Duke anesthesiologist Tong Joo (T.J.) Gan, M.D., who led the trial said, “In the areas of PONV control, pain relief, and general overall satisfaction, acupuncture appears to be more effective than the most commonly used medication (Zofran), with few to no side effects.”

 

Fatigue:

In 2012, the American Society of Clinical Oncology conducted a study of 302 participants with breast cancer. The study was to determine if acupuncture was effective in treating cancer related fatigue (CRF) in patients with breast cancer. Those participants that received the acupuncture for 6 weeks reported improvements in physical, mental, and overall fatigue. They had more motivation and felt less psychological distress. 

 

Hot Flashes:

Presented in part at the American Society for therapeutic radiation oncology conference in Boston in Sept 2008, Dr. Eleanor M. Walker presented her findings of acupuncture in the treatment in vasomotor symptoms in patients with breast cancer. The findings showed that acupuncture worked just as well as Venlafaxine (Effexor), a drug commonly used to treat night sweats and hot flashes in menopausal woman with breast cancer. The only difference is Effexor has numerous side effects and acupuncture does not. It also showed that 2 weeks post treatment,  the Effexor group had an increase in hot flashes, while the acupuncture groups hot flashes remained at low levels.

 

Pain:

Part of treatment for breast cancer is taking aromatase inhibitors. About 50 percent of people that take them develop arthralgia or joint pain, and so many people stop taking them because of this even though it is a vital part of treatment. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman school of Medicine found that acupuncture decreases this joint pain that is caused from taking aromatase inhibitors.

If you or someone you know has breast cancer consider acupuncture.  There are no side-effects and it can improve your overall well-being and quality of life.

 

References:

  1. http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts
  2. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=193319
  3. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040922070424.htm
  4. http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/30/36/4470.long
  5. http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/28/4/634.short