September 19, 2011

Fighting Back Against Pain!

Sep 19
As most of you know, I am a chiropractor by profession. However, what some of you may not know is that I often incorporate medical acupuncture into my treatment sessions. After passing a lengthy and extensive study program at McMaster University in Hamilton, I became certified in Electro-Medical Acupuncture a few years ago. I believe that using medical acupuncture in conjunction with chiropractic care and ART provides for optimal pain relief. Medical acupuncture is similar to traditional aacupuncture in the sense that fine needles are inserted into specialized points in the skin. However, what is different is that the needles are then attached to an electrical current to stimulate nerves and modulate pain sensation.This electrotherapy aims to stimulate the body’s healing processes by sending electrical impulses through muscles, tissues, and nerves. I have seen medical acupuncture work wonders on my patients. Medical acupuncture is most commonly associated with pain management but it is also effective for treating musculoskeletal trauma and so much more. I have used it to treat everything from osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, hypertension, to chronic pain. It truly does work miracles in some cases. I am a strong believer in science so trust me when I say that I’m not just randomly sticking needles in your body to realign your ‘energy’. What I am doing is neuro-anatomical, scientific, and evidence-based. I use neuroanatomy as a basis for point selection – meaning that I’m selecting specific nerve endings on your body that relate to the particular neuroanatomy of the area of concern. It is important to me that what I practice be clinically reliable and reproducible – and medical acupuncture is both. Modern research has found that acupuncture can help alleviate pain by both altering signals among nerve cells and by affecting the release of endogenous neurotransmitters of the central nervous system, including pain-killing endorphins. A recent study found that medical acupuncture appears to raise patients’ blood levels of endorphins while lowering their levels of cortisol, which tends to rise during physical or mental stress. This may partially help explain the significant pain relief felt by patients after an acupuncture session. There is also some evidence that electrical stimulation of acupuncture points activates the endorphin system, which could lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease. Studies of electro-acupuncture also show that the technique can be effective for treatment of chemotherapy-induced acute nausea while producing few or no side effects. Nausea can be a very serious side effect of cancer treatment or surgery for many patients. It can slow down recovery and can require some patients to remain in the hospital on IV fluids so the promise of relief with acupuncture is great news. Studies have also shown that acupuncture can greatly reduce the symptoms of tennis/golf elbow (epicondylitis). In fact, research suggests that acupuncture can be more effective than steroid injections or physical therapy alone for pain management. Acupuncture has an excellent safety profile, with negligible risk of infection or bleeding. It is also relatively pain free for those who might be a bit wary to try something new. The best part is that unlike taking pain medication or steroid injections, there are no side effects to medical acupuncture. Luckily, most insurance companies now cover acupuncture and this has allowed me to help more of my patients with this procedure. As a health care provider, I am always on the look out for the opportunity to learn something new that will allow me to become a better practitioner and better help my patients. In fact, if your current health care provider never seems to be learning anything new and cannot cite the latest innovation/research in his field, I suggest you re-evaluate your relationship. But that’s a whole other topic. What I’m really trying to say is that I decided to pursue medical acupuncture because I saw that it works. I realized that I could help more patients and with greater results using electro-medical acupuncture along with chiropractic care than with chiropractic alone. If you’re in the position that you’ve become frustrated after years of living with pain, I suggest you try electro-medical acupuncture. I have seen so many patients in the same boat who swore nothing would work for them and they turned out to be wrong. Electro-medical acupuncture may be just what you need. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. References: Carlsson CP, Sjolund BH. Acupuncture for chronic low back pain: a randomized placebo-controlled study with long-term follow-up. Clin J Pain Dec 2001;17(4):296-305. Casimiro L, Brosseau L, Milne S, Robinson V, Wells G, Tugwell P. Acupuncture and electroacupuncture for the treatment of RA (Cochrane Review). Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002;(3):CD003788. Ewies AA, Olah KS. The sharp end of medical practice: the use of acupuncture in obstetrics and gynaecology. BJOG Jan 2002;109(1):1-4. Irnich D, Winklmeier S, Beyer A, Peter K. Electric stimulation acupuncture in peripheral neuropathic pain syndromes. Clinical pilot study on analgesic effectiveness. Schmerz Apr 2002;16(2):114-20.