Posts Tagged ‘acupuncture points’
Jun 19, 2013
I used to have back pain and back spasms on a regular basis. Thanks to acupuncture and tai ji practice I have not had a back spasm in years.
Until last week.
A lot has been going on recently with me, moving into our new New York acupuncture office, we remodeled our apartment, and we have a little one on the way. I’ve had a lot on my mind. Also the New York weather has been humid which tightens my back muscles.
When my back seized up, the pain was mostly on the right side of my lumbar. My lower back was so tight I could not stand straight and the pain was intense in my lumbar and sacrum. I could barely get up from sitting.
Luckily, I have treated many back spasms with acupuncture, massage, and stretching. I was able to control the back spasm pain within the first day and get over the spasm entirely in 3 days.
The combination I use was effective. Here is how I did it without any pain medications.
1. Acupuncture: As an acupuncturist, I see back pain and back spasms all the time. The acupuncture helps to reduce the pain and relax the muscles. Just as I would with my patients I looked for the ashi acupuncture points (translated as “ouch” acupuncture points). These are areas that the muscle is very tender to touch. By needling them we can relax the muscles. After the first acupuncture treatment, my back started to loosen up and the pain was greatly reduced. I would give myself daily acupuncture for 3 days.
2. Stretching: Back stretches are essential to keeping a healthy back. But as I got busier I neglected my regular stretching routine. Simple stretches are invaluable for back pain. Stretches such as knees to the chest, soft back twists, and hamstring stretches help significantly. It’s also important to pay attention to your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings can often lead to back pain.
3. Go for a walk: It is important to keep moving when you have back pain. Many people want to stop exercising when you have a back spasm. Don’t. It is helpful to keep yourself moving and limber. Short walks help to loosen your back and are relaxing. Slowly extend the walk and push yourself a little bit more. As you have less pain and spasm you can return to your normal exercise routine.
4. Sleeping position: The best position to sleep in is either lying on your back with knees elevated or lying on the side with a pillow in between your knees. Both of these positions relieve pressure on the back and allows the muscles to relax and return to normal.
Apr 24, 2013
Skin diseases are one of the most common reasons to see your doctor. Yet, they are often stubborn conditions which do not respond to medications. Or even worse the medications have side effects. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offers a natural and effective treatment for many skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, perioral dermatitis, and others.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine has been treating skin diseases for at least 3000 years. The treatment of many skin diseases were discussed in the first known book of Chinese medicine, The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (Huang Di Nei Jing). In the thousands of years since, Chinese medicine doctors and scholars discussed and debated the best approaches to treatment of skin conditions.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Understanding of Skin Conditions
The key to effective Chinese medicine treatment of skin diseases is diagnosis of the underlying imbalance causing the condition. Not everyone with a given skin condition will have the same symptoms. The different symptoms reflect the imbalance which needs to be corrected. My teacher of Chinese Medicine Dermatology, Mazin Al-Khafaji, describes this as Chinese medicine’s method of assessing various types of inflammatory processes causing the skin condition.
Let’s take eczema as an example. Some eczema may presents with wet, weeping, and crusty lesions. In this case, the imbalance is Heat and Damp Eczema. In other cases, the eczema is dry and red. This type of eczema is understood to be caused by Heat and Dryness. The Chinese medicine practitioner will use this imbalance to guide the writing of the acupuncture and herbal prescription.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment Approaches
The acupuncture and herbal formula must address the imbalance causing the skin condition. To do this, the herbal ingredients and acupuncture points are tailored to the specific imbalance causing the disease. Let’s return to the eczema I described earlier. Eczema caused by Heat and Dampness must be treated with herbs that remove heat and damp, such as huang qin and long dan cao, among others. Acupuncture points such as GB 34 and Sp 9 may be used to reduce dampness and heat. While the eczema caused by heat and dryness will require herbs that clear heat and moisten the skin including sheng di huang and mu dan pi, among others. In this case, acupuncture points such as LI 4 and LI 11 may be used to drain heat from the body.
By correcting the underlying imbalance, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can lead to long term improvement.
Here are a number of articles which explain Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatment of skin conditions.
- Eczema Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Psoriasis Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Acne Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Perioral Dermatitis Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Apr 12, 2013
It finally warmed up here in New York (well kind of) and I was out for a bike ride in Central Park. It was a beautiful sunny blue sky day. The tulips are in bloom and buds on the trees are coming out. Everyone is excited to get out on their bike or go for a walk in the park. Spring is in the air.
Spring being in the air also means pollen is too. During my ride, my throat became a little scratchy. My eyes were becoming dry and irritated. After I returned home, my sinuses felt full and heavy. Allergies have arrived.
Acupuncture and Herbal Formula for Sinus Congestion
Acupuncture and herbs work wonders to prevent and treat the symptoms of allergies. Later that day I put myself on a treatment course of acupuncture and herbs to reduce these symptoms and stop the allergies from progressing.
I chose to use an acupuncture point prescription to reduce the itchy eye and boost my qi (energy). It included acupuncture points such as Large intestine 4, Stomach 36, Liver 3, San Jiao 5, Yin Tang, Du 20. He Gu, LI 4, helps to ride the head of pain. SJ 5 reduces eye itchiness. St 36 boosts qi and Liv 3 clears the wind to reduce the itching. Yin Tang relaxes and clams pain in the sinuses.
For herbal therapy, I used an herbal formula called The Sinus Congestion Formula which reduces sinus pressure, itchy eyes, and headaches.
After the acupuncture my sinus felt more open and eye itching was relieved. I’ll keep this acupuncture up weekly during the allergy season. The herbs are great to reduce the sinus pressure and discomfort.
Photo: kataghs photostream
Oct 1, 2012
The introductory class for Acupressure for Self Healing at the New York Open Center is on Monday November 5th 2012 at 6pm.
Interested in learning more about how you can use acupressure to relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, digestive problems, and improve overall health? Then you should come to my class at the New York Open Center in November 2012.
What is acupressure?
- Acupressure is a traditional Chinese healing art in which physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points with the hand (rather than with needles as in acupuncture), so it can be practiced by everyone.
How does acupressure work?
- Acupressure can helps to circulate and balance our qi (energy) to improve our overall health and wellness or help address specific conditions
What will I learn in the class?
- This course will introduce you to the basic concepts and practices of acupressure, including how to
locate points, how to diagnose imbalances in energy flow through the meridians, and how to apply pressure correctly. You’ll also learn some qigong breathing exercises and tui na massage techniques.
- By the end of the course, you’ll be able to use acupressure on ourselves and others to alleviate a range of ailments, including indigestion, PMS and menstrual cramps, headaches and migraines, back and neck pain, as well as to boost overall wellness and energy.
Jul 24, 2012
The process of treating back pain with acupuncture, or any pain for that matter, is complex. As an acupuncturist, we have many factors to consider in the treatment.
Important factors for the acupuncturist to decide are what acupuncture points to use, how long the needles stay in, what position the patient should lie, the use of electro-acupuncture, additional use of cups, and other factors.
Acupuncture points can be chosen based on location of the pain, type of the pain, and the underlying imbalances causes the pain. Some pain, such as pain from sciatica, is best relieved by acupuncture locally in the lower back, around the sacrum, and throughout the course of the sciatic nerve.
2. Use of electroacupuncture is very helpful for many types of back pain. This technique enhances the relaxation of muscles as well as helps to reducing inflammation and pain. In addition, electroacupuncture may be helpful in stimulating the growth of muscle tissue and therefore can be helpful for balancing the muscle weakness.
3. The length of the acupuncture treatment can also vary. If there is an acute back spasm, it is better to have a shorter acupuncture treatment. For muscle weakness, the needles will be left in for a slightly longer period of time.
4. The patient needs to be comfortable during the acupuncture session. Some positions, such as lying face down, will put stress on the back. These patients will often benefit from treatment lying on their side or back and use distal acupuncture points on the most powerful acupuncture channels.
5. Cupping is an effective additional technique to acupuncture for back pain. It helps to relax the muscles and bring circulation to the area.
Mar 5, 2012
This is one of the top five common questions in my NYC acupuncture clinic.
Acupuncture does not hurt. We use very thin sterile solid needles which means they do not feel like a doctor’s needle. Upon insertion, some points can feel a prick, but many do not feel anything. The acupuncture needles remain in the acupuncture points for 20-30 minutes. Patients can feel numbness, tingling, warmth, heaviness, or movement at the acupuncture point. All of these feelings are good. At some acupuncture points the muscles will twitch. This is particularly true when using acupuncture points such as GB 30 for treating acupuncture for sciatica and acupuncture for chronic low back pain. Acupuncture is very relaxing and people will often fall asleep while lying on the massage table.
Traditionally, acupuncturists have called the feeling of acupuncture as “de qi.” The has been translated as “getting the qi” which means the acupuncture points has been adequately stimulated. In China, patients will tell their acupuncture doctors “zhong” which means heaviness, when the acupuncture point has been adequately stimulated.
Feb 29, 2012
Patients in my New York Acupuncture clinic are always curious how acupuncturists choose the correct acupuncture points. There are a number of ways to choose the acupuncture points.
The basic idea with acupuncture is to correct the underlying imbalance in the body. This can help to stimulate the body to heal itself. We acupuncturists will determine the imbalance by our examination. For example, if there is lack of circulation of the energy, what we call qi stagnation, we’ll choose points to move the qi. A common combination for moving the qi is Liv 3 and LI 4.
I find that acupuncture is most effective by changing the focus of the treatment overtime. At first, we may focus on releasing tension in the muscles, this is called moving qi and blood stagnation. But over time it may become more important to focus on boosting up the qi to support the overall health. This is often true in the acupuncture treatment of chronic prostatitis.
There are also points which are chosen based on the location of the illness. Pain on the urinary bladder channel ,which travels up the back, can be treated with acupuncture points on the urinary bladder channel located on the legs such as UB 40 or UB 60. These points can help with the treatment of chronic pelvic pain syndrome, chronic low back pain, and sciatica.
Acupuncturists will also search out for specifically painful areas at the location of the pain. In Chinese these are called ashi points. In English this means “ouch points.” Often, they may be referred to as trigger points in the West. Acupuncture will help to release these areas of pain to relax the muscle, increase circulation, and reduce pain. Trigger points are very important in the acupuncture treatment of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
Acupuncturists also may use a specific point because we know that it is clinically effective. For example, using PC 6 acupuncture point for nausea has been shown time and time again to reduce many types of nausea. Because we know this works through clinical experience, we call this an empirical point.
Every acupuncturist has their own style. We develop these through training, our personal interests, and clinical experience.
Feb 21, 2012
This is one of the most common questions I get in my NYC acupuncture clinic. The acupuncture point prescriptions will differ between patients, but also will change over time within one treatment plan.
Acupuncture is highly focused on treating the correct imbalance at the correct time. As the acupuncture treatment progresses, the imbalances will change and the acupuncture point prescription will change.
For example, in acupuncture for overactive bladder the initial acupuncture treatment will focus on relaxing the bladder and calming the mind. After the intense discomfort and symptoms are corrected, the acupuncture will focus on boosting the energy, or qi, in the body to prevent the symptoms from returning.
The first part of the acupuncture treatment calms the bladder by getting heat out of the body. This may use acupuncture points such as KD2 and KD 3, Ren 2, GB 34, and ST 40. The will help the bladder and calm the feeling of urgent and frequent urination. The second part of the acupuncture treatment will be focused on boosting up the qi which will relieve the residual symptoms and provide longer term relief. Acupuncture points such as KD 3, SP 9, Ren 4 and 6 are very helpful.
Feb 20, 2012
Overactive bladder is a syndrome characterized by the frequent and sudden urge to urinate. Some people will feel a constant fullness and discomfort in their bladder. The syndrome can seriously disrupt your life disturbing both work and social situations.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help. Acupuncture has been treating syndromes of frequent urination for over 2000 years.
Causes of Overactive Bladder
The precise cause of overactive bladder is often unknown. Like many other syndromes, the search for the single cause is often impossible as the condition arises from a complex interaction within the body. For overactive bladder, the syndrome probably involved many of the organs and muscles involved in urination.
Urination is a complex action involving the nervous system, smooth muscles of the bladder, the urinary sphincters, and pelvic floor muscles. The symptoms of overactive bladder may be from any one of these functions: involuntary bladder spasms creating the sudden need to urinate or a feeling of urination when the bladder is filling, although it is not totally full, or contraction of the pelvic floor muscles.
The symptoms of overactive bladder are serious, yet the syndrome itself does not pose a threat to your health. But in rare cases it can be due to a growth or obstruction or a neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, strokes, and multiple sclerosis. So it is important to check in with your physician about these symptoms.
Acupuncture and Overactive Bladder
Acupuncture offers a holistic approach to address overactive bladder. Acupuncture views the body as an interconnected whole. Rather than examining the body to find a specific organ, muscle, or tissue that is diseased, Acupuncture seeks to understand the imbalance of the interactions between the organs, muscles, and tissues. Once the imbalance is corrected, the root of the problem is improved and body can work to heal itself.
Overactive bladder is very similar to the acupuncture syndrome of frequent urination. This can be caused by many factors such as an injury to the pelvic floor while giving birth, congenital issues, an injury, and factors in your life, such as stress, grief, and pain.
The root of this imbalance can be in the kidneys, spleen, urinary bladder, or liver, and, more often than not, these imbalances are interconnected. Please note that while the organ names and some of the functions are the same in both Chinese medicine and Western medicine, a dysfunction of the Chinese medicine kidney, spleen, and liver does not mean a disease in the western medicine organ.
In Chinese medicine, the kidneys are said to “govern water.” In other words, the kidneys are in charge of water metabolism and urination. Just like in western medicine, the kidneys filter out the urine. But unlike western medicine, kidney qi (or energy) also contributes to the ability to hold urine in the bladder. So problems with the kidney qi may cause overactive bladder.
The functions of the kidney can be described in terms of yin and yang. Yin and yang are metaphors for describing different qualities. They can also be used to describe functions in the body. The ability for the bladder to sufficiently hold urine is a yin function. When there is too little kidney yin, the bladder cannot hold urine and may result in overactive bladder symptoms, such as the frequent and sudden need to urinate, which is called urge incontinence. Weak kidney yin can also cause stress incontinence, which is when urine leaks while laughing, coughing, or sneezing. Other symptoms of kidney yin deficiency are night sweats, hot flashes, a red face, thirst, frequent nighttime urination, a rapid pulse, and a red tongue.
The spleen is also an important organ in overactive bladder. If the overactive bladder is accompanied by extreme fatigue especially in the morning, loose stools, poor digestion, and a pale swollen tongue, the imbalance may be in the spleen. Often, the spleen problem is combined with an imbalance in the liver.
The liver is said to “govern the muscles and sinews,” which means the liver reflects the general health of the muscles in the body. Because the many different muscles are the key to having the ability to hold urination, imbalances in the liver can lead to overactive bladder. Another sign of liver involvement is when the condition is worsened by stress or anger.
A Holistic Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs
The acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatment are focused on correcting the root imbalance in the body. The treatment is usually once or twice a week with acupuncture and a treatment series is usually 10-12 sessions. For some people this may be shorter and for others it may take longer. The treatment should increase one’s ability hold urination, decrease number of times one urinates at night, decrease urinary urgency, and create a smoother urine flow.
Acupuncture points such as Ren 4 and 6 on the lower abdomen as well as Bladder 23 and Du 4 on the lower back all tonify the Kidney. Kidney 7 can be added to tonify the yang, while Kidney 2 will be used if there is more yin deficiency with heat. Other points, such as Ren 3 and Bladder 64 can directly tonify the Bladder and help with incontinence. If the spleen is involved, Spleen 3 and 9 will be helpful. If the liver is in disharmony, Liver 5, 3, or 2 can help move the qi and open the channels in the genitals.
Chinese Herbal Formulas
Chinese herbal medicine can also be effective for Overactive Bladder. When taking Chinese herbs, it is very important to get diagnosed and treated by a trained practitioner of Chinese medicine. Herbal formulas such as liu wei di huang tang can be used for kidney yin deficiency, while ba wei di huang tang is effective for yang deficiency. If the root imbalance is in the spleen, wu ling san or bu zhong yi qi tang can be effective
Research on Acupuncture or Overactive Bladder
There is some research into acupuncture for overactive bladder. In one randomized controlled trial, women with overactive bladder who received acupuncture once a week for 4 weeks saw a decrease in urge incontinence and urinary frequency.
If you have questions about acupuncture for Overactive Bladder, call us 917-887-4946 or click below to make an appointment online.
1. Emmons SL, Otto L. Acupuncture for overactive bladder: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Jul;106(1):138-43.
written by Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
Last Edited 2/20/2012
Jan 30, 2012
Acupuncture is a constantly evolving art. Electro-acupunctrue was only developed within the last 100 years. Electro-acupuncture is used to augment the pain relieving and anti-inflammatory aspects of acupuncture
Electro-acupuncture is very similar to regular acupuncture. That is the acupuncture point selection is generally the same and the treatment time is also similar. Electro-acupuncture provides additional small amount electric stimulation to the acupuncture needles. The electric stimulation enhances muscle relaxation, the release of natural pain killers in the body, as well as decreases inflammation.
Electro-acupuncture is most often used for chronic pain and inflammatory conditions. The pain relief with electro-acupuncture can be so dramatic it has been used for certain types of surgery in China.
History of Electro-acupuncture
Electro-acupuncture for pain, much like other medical discoveries, was somewhat of an accident. In the early 20th century, acupuncture doctors were looking for a way to enhance bone healing by adding electrical current to an acupuncture treatment.
While it did not speed the bone healing, the physicians found it worked wonderfully for pain relief. A new therapy in the long history of acupuncture was born.
How to use Electro-acupuncture
There are many choices when using the electroacupuncture. This is where the art and skill of the acupuncture technique comes into play.
The first is what points to put the leads on. Each lead has 2 clips. You can put them on two acupuncture points that are relatively close together if you want to focus on relaxing a specific region of the body, such as the lower back. Or you can put them farther away if you want to increase circulation in the channels. It is important to place the leads ipsilaterally, that is only one side of the body and not cross the spine.
Then one chooses the frequency. Generally, I use a lower frequency between 4hz and 10hz. This is because the low frequency has been shown to decrease both pain and inflammation (1). The higher frequency, such as 100hz or 200 hz can be powerful for reducing pain, but not as much reduction of inflammation.
After the points and the frequency for electro-acupuncture have been selected I will turn the simulator on. We gradually increase the amplitude of the each lead until the patient gently feels a light tapping. The body generally adjusts and you feel the tapping only for a few minutes.
Success is in the details: How to select frequency
Frequencies can be changed in order to focus on different types of pain. This can be useful for a short stimulation for acute muscle spasm. Or it can help someone who has been experiencing chronic pain with persistent pain or partial relief some lower frequencies, I will use a higher frequencies of electro-acupuncture to stop the pain.
For example, recently I was working with a patient with chronic pelvic pain syndrome. After 2 months of treatment with acupuncture and electro-acupuncture, we were able to reduce the pain to less than half of the initial pain levels. But there was a persistent low level of pain remaining.
I changed from low frequency to high level frequency electro-acupuncture at 200hz on lower back and pelvic regions using acupuncture points such as Bladder 23, Bladder 35, and Gall Bladder 30 for 10 minute treatment. After 3 weeks of this additional treatment, the pain was reduced to almost nothing.
1. Lixin Lao section on electro-acupuncture for pain relief in review article. For full article, please see
Napadow V, Ahn A, Longhurst J, et.al. The Status and Future of Acupuncture Mechanism Research. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 September; 14(7): 861–869.