Contemporary Medical Acupuncture
What does Acupuncture do???
Contemporary medical acupuncture focuses on different structures of the body including the muscles, nerves, joints, and ligaments. Acupuncture is able to have an effect using the gate control theory. An area may be sending signals to the brain through the nervous system that it is in pain or tight. Acupuncture can have a constant and rhythmic contraction of the muscles in the area directly effecting the nervous system. It is able to relax the area and send those rhythmic contracting signals to the brain instead of the pain signals.
The benefits of acupuncture include:
the ability to loosen and decrease hypertonicity in muscles
reach the deeper muscles effectively
decrease nerve sensitivity and symptoms
decrease pain and increase function
Acupuncture can treat many different conditions. Most of these conditions are listed under the Chiropractic section.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Does acupuncture hurt?
The technique we use is called painless needling, however when an area is sensitized there may be some discomfort noted. Overall it is often described as a different sensation because we have the muscles contracting, but you are not contracting them.
Will I bleed?
The acupuncture needles are very tiny and often do not bleed. Occasionally there may be a drop of blood, but it is minimal.
When will I get results?
Often there is an increase in function and decreased pain right after treatment. It does frequently take a few treatments to really see benefits.
How far do the needles go in?
The needles will be placed in at varied lengths depending on the structures that are being targeted. Superficial musculature will require smaller needles when compared to targeting the deeper musculature.
NEEDLES!!... but I am Scared of Needles!
A lot of people are nervous about acupuncture or needles in general. I frequently give demonstrations (me acupuncturing my forearm) to people that are hesitant or unsure about acupuncture. After they see the process, they become more comfortable. Acupuncture uses very tiny needles, much smaller than what people expect. The two sizes of needles that I use are 40mm and 75mm in length. Depending on the area being treated (more muscle mass or tissue) will dictate what size of needle is required. The technique used is called painless needling. However, when an area is sensitized due to pain, some discomfort may be felt. Often patients describe the sensation as different, but not painful.
Where and What will I Feel??
There are many different techniques or models of acupuncture. Originating from Traditional Chinese Medicine where they follow Meridians (different areas of the body that relate to different organs, energies or life forces) and evolving into other techniques. The method of acupuncture I use is called Contemporary Medical, or Neurofunctional Acupuncture. All that means is I use acupuncture to treat muscles, nerves, joints, and ligaments of the body. When deciding where to put needles, I determine and focus on areas that are affected causing pain and dysfunction. I frequently add electrical stimulation to the needles (electro-acupuncture). This allows me to send a current through the affected areas or muscles and often get a muscle contraction from the muscles being treated.
But What is the Benefit??
I have been treating patients for a little over two years now and I am still frequently surprised by the effect that acupuncture can have. I have treated people that walk in needing a cane because their back is so sore, and they walk out not needing the cane. The amount of function that someone can gain from acupuncture is astounding.
Depending on the practitioner you ask, their take on why acupuncture works may differ. My thought process is simple and is based on the Gate Control Theory of Pain. This is the concept that when you are in pain, that area sends signals to the brain saying that you are in pain. If you can do something to break up that signal, then the pain will decrease. The electro-acupuncture can really target the area to decrease the dysfunction but also help with the pain being experienced. It is a rhythmic contraction resulting in a loosening of the area and contraction signals being sent to the brain. When the muscle is contracting, the only signal being sent is contract…contract…contract and the brain no longer receives the pain… pain… pain signals. It also can release endorphins and bring blood and nutrients to the area to promote healing.
When to Use it??
I use acupuncture frequently. I am a manual adjusting Chiropractor, but if I am not able to adjust due to contraindications then acupuncture is a very good alternative. If the patient is experiencing nerve type symptoms down their legs or arms, it can help to calm down the nervous system and decrease those symptoms. Patients may come in with very limited function, so acupuncture does help restore those ranges of motion. Lastly, if someone is not responding as expected with the manual muscle work and adjusting, acupuncture is a great adjunct to add to the treatment plan.
What Conditions can it Help??
Acupuncture can be a stand-alone treatment or an adjunct to the other care being received with most conditions that Chiropractors and Massage Therapists treat. If you feel you are at a standstill with your treatment, trying acupuncture may get you to where you want to be.
Please do not hesitate to follow up with me if you have any questions about acupuncture.