Traditional Chinese Medicine
Chinese Medicine is the oldest medicine in the world, dating back over 2000 years. Chinese Medicine encompasses a number of different therapies including acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal medicine, cupping and Gua Sha. Contemporary western medicine tends to take a mechanical approach to treating disease. Chinese Medicine takes a more comprehensive view of prevention and well-being. In fact, historically, a Chinese doctor was paid to keep his patients healthy. If they became ill, the doctor wouldn’t get paid until the patient was well again.
Chinese Medicine holds the central principle that a system in harmony will tend toward health, well-being, and sustainability. The two fundamental concepts, Qi (also called “life energy” or “vital energy”) and yin and yang (the harmony of opposite elements and forces) form what could be called the root of Chinese Medicine.
Qi travels through meridians, the network of pathways throughout the body. When the body’s flow or balance of Qi is obstructed or deficient, it can lead to disease and illness.
Acupuncture is the use of filiform needles inserted along the meridians at specific acupuncture points and manipulated to adjust the flow of Qi to provide nourishment to the organs, muscles, tissues, and cells in the body to stimulate healing.
Acupuncture has been successfully used to treat a variety of health conditions, not the least of which is chronic pain. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded, in part, that “Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option”.
Teatment Modalities under the umbrella of Acupuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Nutritional Supplement/Chinese Herbal Supplements:
Nutritional supplementation and herbal therapy of Chinese herbs can address unhealthy body patterns that manifest in a variety of symptoms and complaints. The aims of Chinese herbal therapy are to help you regain balance in your body and to strengthen your body's resistance to disease.
Moxibustion is the burning of an herb (moxa aka mug wart) which produces heat. There are many forms of moxa. The herb burns on the handle of a needle, in a “moxa box”, applied to the skin on salt or ginger, or is waved over the skin.
Cupping is a treatment of creating a vacuum in a glass, plastic or silicone cup, which is then applied to the skin.
This treatment is used to remove stagnation and stimulate the flow of qi (chi). Qi is the free flow of vital energy circulating through the body and the world around us, if the qi is disrupted or disturbed, it can create stagnation (blockages) or imbalances in the body.
Gua Sha is a scraping technique that is used on the skin in a small area using a smooth-edged instrument to relieve pain and tension. This action causes light bruising, which often appears as purple or red spots known as petechiae or sha.
Electro-Acupuncture: a mild electric current (like a TENS treatment) is used to stimulate acupuncture needles once they are placed in the body. A mild tingling or tapping sensation may be felt, but intensity is only raised to a level of patient comfort.
THE ACUPUNCTURE DRY NEEDLING DILEMMA
There is a common misconception that Dry Needling is “the same thing as acupuncture” or that Dry Needling is a variation of acupuncture. It is not. Acupuncture and Dry Needling are very different therapies.
Acupuncture and Dry Needling share a common tool, a thin filiform needle, but that is where the similarity ends.
Dry Needling, unlike acupuncture, has its roots in western medicine principles. Physicians Janet Travell, who later became President John F. Kennedy’s White House physician, and David Simons are credited with having been pioneers in the field in the early 1940’s. In the ensuing years, numerous studies have determined that Dry Needling is not only an effective, drug-free treatment of musculoskeletal pain, but that it is also minimally invasive, cost effective, and low risk.
Dry needling, also known as intramuscular manual stimulation or intramuscular needing, is a treatment that specifically targets muscular myofascial trigger points. Myo (muscle) fascia (a sheathing) is a tight membrane that covers the muscles as well as the entire body. Past injuries, operations and accidents can result in stress points in the fascia, called trigger points. These can then put tension on muscle and musculoskeletal areas resulting in pain, sometimes chronic. Because of the tension exerted, the point of pain is not necessarily the exact trigger point. Locating the area of the trigger point is a necessary part of the therapy. The needle is inserted into the trigger point and manipulated to bring relief from muscle spasms and muscle pain.
Since its introduction many years ago, Dry Needling has been gaining popularity and recognition. It is now one of the fastest-growing areas of medicine in the U.S. David Legge of Western Sydney University confirms that “since 2000, there has been a surge in academic interest in dry needling and its use has expanded into the allied health professions of physiotherapy, osteopathy, and chiropractic”. Clinical evidence has been published validating its effectiveness at reducing pain and muscle spasms.