The following are the Top 10 Reasons People Come In For Acupuncture:
Stress – Stress is pretty much the Number One Reason why people come in for acupuncture treatments. New York City is notorious for being a city on the go, as well as for putting the pressure on its residents to perform, create, and be seen. Although we put the pressure on ourselves, the kinetic energy of the city can be both building and depleting. Much of my loved work is in helping people create more manageable lifestyles, while still performing at their peak. Part of that is implementing lots of self-care, and teaching patients how to create healthy energetic boundaries. Because, many of my patients don’t realize what energetic sponges they are, until they feel they’ve soaked up too much gritty city juju!
Back Pain – Back pain, neck pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, joint pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. They all come into a close second on this list. But, if one were to take the cake when it comes to being the biggest physical pain issue, it would have to be the back. Our backs carry so much. From keyboards and heavy luggage being schlepped through the city subway systems, to sitting in cubicles without periods of stretching, to demanding physical workouts, our spine does its best to leverage the balance in our bodies. The muscles in our backs try to compensate for the stress we put on our bodies. Add some tension and stress of the daily grind, and voila! Back pain. In addition to acupuncture, I often recommend various lifestyle shifts that can be made to help keep the body stretched during the day, or to help put less pressure on the back so it can heal faster. I often use electro-stimulation, or e-stim for short, during the treatment, particularly when there’s chronic pain. When I use an e-stim machine, I hook up the tiny machine’s leads to the acupuncture needles, once they’re inserted. What results is deep penetration of the pain into the muscle layers, creating constant subtle stimulation, which may feel similar to a pulsing of a gentle heartbeat. At the end of the treatment, we remove the lead connections and needles, and give some good bodywork to loosen up the muscles further. I often use some oils when doing this. On some days I may use a blend of muscle-penetrating essential oils; on other days, I may use Chinese Medicated liniment oils that have menthol and Chinese herbs.
Neck Pain – The neck holds so much of our tension. As I’d mentioned in my previous article, “Skin Conditions And The Process of Ascension“, Liver qi stagnation often results when there’s blockage in the Liver channel, which often results in physical and/or emotional pain. I see a lot of Liver qi stagnation in my practice, and it often shows up when we have stress. I often see stress and Liver qi stagnation build up in the neck and shoulders of women, since that upper back/shoulder/neck area is a classic place where we hold our stress. Almost as if we are holding are breath and forgetting to exhale! Louise Hays, author of the book, “You Can Heal Your Life”, explores the ways our bodies express our thought patterns through physical ailments. She attributes neck problems to refusing to see other sides of a question. Of being inflexible. Louise then offers a new thought pattern of, “It is with flexibility and ease that I see all sides of an issue. There are endless ways to do things and see things. I am safe.” In addition to seeing the possible emotional component of a pain issue, we also look at what is possibly structurally going on. E-stim for neck pain works wonders, as well!
Hip Pain – Often an extension of back pain, particularly the lower back, hip pain can cause patients great distress. This is because the hip is used in so many physical actions, including just walking down the street, or going up a flight of stairs. It can also hinder a person’s workout, which is very disconcerting if the person’s an athlete. Sometimes there can be some sciatica involved. Whatever the reason or cause, acupuncture is helpful in getting into the hip area, particularly the glutes. Did you know that acupuncturists have different needles to help us access different areas of the body? One of my patients who enjoys the work we do on her hip always says she feels “longer” after a treatment. Why? Because when we’re in pain, our body contracts, including the muscles. Acupuncture helps to loosen all of that goodness up!
Anxiety and Depression – Many of the patients who see me for anxiety often come to me in search of a healing modality that helps them address their anxiety and/or depression without medication. Sometimes they are already on psychiatric medications, but they want to wean off of them. Acupuncture has some incredible points to address the Spirit and the Heart. The Heart, in Chinese Medicine, holds the Shen, or Spirit. When our Spirit feels disturbed, the Heart becomes restless. My job is to help the Heart heal, and to help patients reconnect with their Heart. Sometimes they don’t even realize they’re disconnected from it. Oftentimes, depression can be all consuming, and can lead to addictions and self-sabotaging behaviors. Anxiety can make us feel like we don’t have control of our bodies, and depression can make us feel like there’s no way out. Our bodies often just need a strong reminder that homeostasis is accessible, and acupuncture’s ability to reboot the sympathetic nervous system is helpful in that regard.
Fertility – Numerous studies have shown that IVF acupuncture can increase the efficacy of in-vitro fertilization. Acupuncture not only reduces stress, but can increase the number of follicles produced, help to thicken the endometrial lining, and decrease the side effects of IVF medications. I have had the blessing of successfully treating women with acupuncture, towards building their families. Whether that means regulating their periods first, helping them to conceive naturally, or treating them in conjunction with IVF or IUI treatments, acupuncture helps prepare the uterus (or the “Child’s Palace” as it’s called in Chinese Medicine) and the female reproductive system. There are also lots of things to nourish yourself with when preparing to conceive, and I love sharing those resources with my patients!
Food Cravings – Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. It’s not just recreational drugs or alcohol. Sometimes it’s addiction to work, cigarettes, sugar, or food. It’s also telling, on a Chinese Medicine level, what type of food craving you have. Do you crave sugar or sweet things? Or is it salty foods? If you get weak at the knees for sugary and sweet things, your Spleen may be involved. If you crave salty foods, your Kidneys may be calling for some rebalance. By feeling your pulses, and checking out your tongue, I can see which organs are out of balance, and see which points would best suit you for that day’s treatment. Did you know there’s actually a Craving point on the ear that can be needled to address food cravings? When used in conjunction with other points on the body, and the ear, it can make for an effective treatment that not only reduces food cravings, but can also improve the overall health, as well as energy, in the body.
Smoking Cessation – As when addressing food cravings, working on smoking cessation is similar. There’s a full body treatment, with a focus on ear acupuncture. In fact, the NADA technique is particularly helpful for both smoking cessation and food cravings. NADA stands for National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, and refers to the five point ear acupuncture protocol for recovery from addictions, particularly: drugs, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and even hunger cravings. I offer smoking cessation sessions in a series, because receiving acupuncture for smoking cessation is best served up on a weekly basis, for at least 8-10 weeks. In addition, there are some great herbal formulas out there to help clear up the Lungs.
Digestive Issues – There are various reasons why the gut may be in dysbiosis. In Chinese Medicine, we love talking about poop! How often we have a bowel movement, how our poop is formed, it’s color, and yes, sometimes even the smell. In ancient China, the Emperor’s staff used to survey their boss’ poop to assess the health of their ruler. Yes, it’s that important! Whether it be diarrhea, constipation, a fluctuation between the two, gas, or leaky gut, the body has many ways to let us know that things are not digesting properly. Through tongue and pulse, we can also find out which organ may be at the root of the issue! A lot of times the Spleen is involved in this mechanism. But, sometimes the Liver, or another organ, can be culprit.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Part of being so incredibly productive, and possibly workaholic, comes with certain aches and pains. For those who often use their wrists and hands for their profession (ie. almost everybody!), repetitive motions with the hand, wrist, and arm can bring about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which is most notably felt in the midline of the inside of the wrist. This is due to the compression of the median nerve, which causes pain, numbness, or limited mobility of the fingers, hand, wrist, and/or arm. Acupuncture helps to open the area, and bring qi flow into what may have previously been a stagnant part of the body.