Posts Tagged ‘acupuncturist’
Apr 30, 2013
I started seeing Joe in mid-2012 at the age of 28. I was newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, have battled Interstitial Cystitis for 6 years, have chronic allergies and sinus including headaches, and have chronic constant stress and anxiety since I was a teenager. I was tired of feeling sick, stressed, and being on so many prescription medications. I had heard many great things about acupuncture, but always delayed trying it out, not sure if it would really work for me. I wanted to find someone who could mainly help my IC, and when I googled an acupuncturist in NYC for IC, Joe’s website came up. I am so glad it did, because ever since starting acupuncture with Joe, my health, body, and life has been better in all aspects.
Acupuncture is a natural high for me, and when I leave after my treatment, I feel incredibly relaxed and calm, which helps with my stress and anxiety, not just in that moment, but continuing throughout the week. Acupuncture is also incredibly great for pain and works very fast for all kinds of pain. One time I had a pulled muscle in my lower back, but after one acupuncture treatment, I was running after 2 days. One time I had such a bad headache that I wanted to go to the ER, but I went to Joe instead, and walked out almost headache free. Acupuncture helps a lot with my allergies and sinus problems, especially headaches.
Joe is so patient, answers all of my questions, every single time I see him, which is usually weekly, since that works for me. Since I feel healing through acupuncture, I know that over time, I won’t even need to go as often because acupuncture is more than a medicine that masks your symptoms or covers up ailments. It heals your body, brings it into alignment and balance. That is what it is doing for me. Acupuncture has helped me with stomach and intestinal problems, from acid reflux to Crohn’s to my stomach being upset, whether constipation or diarrhea. It has helped my bladder pain and irritation from IC. It has greatly helped my stress and anxiety.
Joe is so great, not only for being kind and patient and answering all my questions, but he answers emails too, and is very accommodating for patients and their schedules. The evening hours really work well for me and allow me to come each week. Also Joe gave me some herbal options and remedies that I take to help with my bladder symptoms and to help with regular menstruation, which is taking me towards getting off prescriptions, and being completely natural and holistic, which is my goal. I am so thankful to have found Joe and I would recommend Alban acupuncture to everyone (I already do), for no matter what pain, ailment, or health issue that you have. Acupuncture is such a positive addition to my life, and would be to anyone’s. I know it will always be a part of my life. Go natural healing!
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 16, 2012
Everyone knows that seasonal allergies are painful and uncomfortable causing runny nose, sneezing, sinus pain, fatigue, watery eyes, and other debilitating symptoms. Allergies also effect your productivity at work and school and may be linked to depression, insomnia, and anxiety.(1)
Acupuncture offers an effective drug free treatment so you can smell the flowers.
Acupuncture for Allergies
Acupuncture is different than taking a pill. Acupuncture helps to reduce pain and inflammation. But rather than adding a medication that will temporarily block a receptor, histamine in the case of allergies, acupuncture works to regulate the body’s functioning. The goals is for long term improvement from the acupuncture treatment.
The idea is that acupuncture helps to reset the body and remind it how to be healthy. As balance is achieved, your body is able to maintain the healthy state without medications. So instead of simply suppressing the body’s reaction, it works to correct the root cause of the problem.
Acupuncture’s Understanding of Allergies
Acupuncture has its own view of the body and health. Acupuncturists look for an imbalance that is causing of allergies.
Qi (pronounced chee) is the body’s vital energy, it gives you the power to work, study, exercise, and fight illness. In acupuncture, the cause of allergies is often a qi imbalance. There are two major qi imbalances. The most common one for allergies is when there is too little qi, we call this a qi vacuity. When your qi is vacuous, you feel tired, can get colds easily, may have poor digestion, coughing, wheezing, and possibly asthma. The acupuncture and herbs work to boost up your qi, giving you more energy and protecting you from allergies.
The second imbalance is called qi stagnation. This is when your qi does not circulate well. This is often caused by stress, and can cause pain, headaches, menstrual cramps, and in some cases, bring on asthma attacks.
Inflammation is a cause of allergies and chronic sinus pain. In acupuncture, this is often related to an imbalance called heat. Heat can cause dryness, irritation, and pain. This is often common in chronic sinusitis.
The Acupuncture Treatment
An effective acupuncture treatment is based upon a specific and accurate diagnosis of the imbalance. Chinese herbs can also be helpful in reducing inflammation and sinus pain. By targeting the exact root of the condition leads to the most successful treatment.
I combine acupressure, Chinese medicine massage, with the acupuncture to create greater results and a stronger sense of relaxation. Usually people will feel some relief after only a few weekly visits.
How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture helps to reduce inflammation and increase circulation. Acupuncture also helps to regulate the brain to reduce pain, so it is also possible that is another way it works to help regulate the immune response to allergies (2).
1. Marcus MB. Seasonal allergies could spark depression, fatigue. USA Today. 3/18/2008.
2. 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.
written by: Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
Late Edited: 2/22/2012
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.
Jan 31, 2012
Jan 23, 2012
Chronic neck and shoulder pain is a very common problem which can occur from overuse, injury, stress, or poor posture. Neck and shoulder pain is often treated with acupuncture (1, 2). Acupuncture treatment often leads to long term pain relief.
For most people, neck and shoulder pain develops over time. At one point, your body was healthy and pain free. However, an injury or chronic stress leads to the development of chronic pain. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work by bringing the body back to balance. By correcting the imbalance, acupuncture helps the body to heal.
Acupuncture Imbalances Causing Neck and Shoulder Pain
Acupuncture is based on a theory that the pain is caused by an imbalance. When it comes to muscle pain, the acupuncturist must determine if it is a condition of stagnation or deficiency. The treatment will be tailored to that diagnosis.
Stagnation occurs when there is a lack of circulation in the muscles. This impedes the circulation in the acupuncture channels and muscles, which leads to pain. A deficient condition is when there is not enough energy. Then the muscles do not have enough substance to support them, as a result they tense up.
There is an old acupuncture saying which states, “When there is movement, there is no pain. When there is no movement, there is pain.” When there is no circulation and the muscles are tight, pain occurs. This is often caused by stagnation.
Stagnation may develop from an injury, wear and tear, or chronic stress. Chronic stress is one of the most common causes of stagnation, which is why it is easy to develop pain and injuries during periods of high stress.
The other common issue with neck and shoulder pain is qi weakness, or too little energy. In this case, the acupuncture must focus on building up the energy to promote healing.
For an excess condition, your acupuncturist may use a stronger technique, and for a deficient condition, your acupuncturist may use a more gentle technique. If the deficiency is very extreme, then the treatment may be take a longer time.
Acupuncture Treatment for Neck and Shoulder Pain
A successful acupuncture treatment must match the correct identification of an imbalance. Often, the acupuncture treatment will involve acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and tui na.
For the imbalance of stagnation acupuncture points on the neck and shoulders such as Gallbladder 20, Gallbladder 21, Small Intestine 11, and Du 14 may be selected. When the root cause of the shoulder pain is an underlying weakness, then acupuncture points to boost up the qi should be used. These point could be Spleen 6, Kidney 3, and Liver 3. Patients often feel some relief after a few visits. A full treatment course may range from 4-10 visits depending on the severity and complexity of the pain.
Physiological, acupuncture works to reduce pain and inflammation through regulating neural pain pathways, stimulating the release of natural pain relieves in the body, such as opioids, as well as regulating pain relieving opioid receptors. Many studies have also shown acupuncture to have a anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the circulating inflammatory hormones in the blood (3).
Tui Na for Neck and Shoulder Pain
Tui Na, or Chinese medical massage, is also very helpful for treatment of shoulder pain. One of the most powerful and unique techniques in Tui Na is called the rolling technique, called gun fa in Chinese. This technique uses the back of the hand to roll over the muscles. Rolling technique is both soft and strong, allowing it to get deep into the muscle and help with relaxation.
If you push too hard on a muscle, the muscle will rebel. Instead of relaxing, it can become tighter. The rolling technique, because it is smooth, allows the use of strength while avoiding resistance within the muscle.
Treating the Whole Person
Acupuncture will address the whole person, not just the neck and shoulders.
The body is interconnected, tension from one area can create problems in other muscles. Often, trying to target and treat only the location of the pain does not relieve the tension in the surrounding muscle groups. This is particularly true when treating pain in the neck and shoulders. All of the muscles in the region need to be addressed.
Acupuncture helps to relax the body and the mind. Stress and pressure have a profound effect on neck pain development. The stress causes the muscles to become tense. The muscle tension then causes stress, creating a cycle. The acupuncture can help to break this cycle.
1. Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Eisenberg DM, et.al. The Practice of Acupuncture: Who Are the Providers and What Do They Do? Ann Fam Med 2005;3:151-158.
2.National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Acupuncture for Pain. Accessed on 1/23/2012.
3. 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.
written by: Joseph Alban
Last Edited: 1/23/2012
Jan 17, 2012
Acupuncture can target chronic pain in any location of the body. Sometimes, an acupuncturist will put needles in the place of the pain. But other times an acupuncturist will place needles far away from the location, such as in acupuncture points on the legs and feet for chronic headaches.
The primary way acupuncturists can focus the treatment for chronic pain in specific places because of the acupuncture channels. Acupuncture channels connect different parts of the body and run along different places in the body. The acupuncture channels create a type of map that interconnects different regions of the body.
For example, the Large Intestine acupuncture channel starts on the hand, up the forearm, through the shoulder to the face. This is why LI 4 on the hand can be very effective for frontal and sinus headaches.
On the other hand, the Gall Bladder channel runs from the toes, along the sides of the body, and then to the sides of the head. This is why Gall Bladder 34 near the knee can be effective for headaches on the side or temples.
Auricular acupuncture, or ear acupuncture, is particularly effective for chronic pain.
In acupuncture, the ear lobe provides a map of the body with points for specific areas and organs.
In ear acupuncture, the best way to target the chronic pain is to find the most sensitive points in the ear for that region and place the needle in that acupuncture point.
Dec 27, 2011
As the year is coming to a close, I am looking over much of the writing I’ve been doing over the year.
In 2011, I wrote many articles explaining how acupuncture works. Here are some of my favorite.
- Acupuncture and the Healing Process
- How Much Time are Acupuncture Needles Retained
- How Long is an Acupuncture Treatment
Chinese Medicine Diagnosis
If you have a specific question about acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine, let me know in the comment section.
Dec 12, 2011
For the last 50 years, the placebo effect has been a dirty word. Real interventions make a physiological change in the body. Placebos do nothing but convince the patient that something is different. Reality states otherwise. Ted Katpchuk, an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine doctor who focuses on the placebo effect in his research, wants to change all that.
In last week’s New Yorker, an article focuses on the placebo and the scholars who think about and examine the placebo.
What is a Placebo?
One of the difficult and fundamental questions is what is a placebo? We’ve come to believe a placebo is an inert intervention. A sugar pill.
In most clinical trials of medication, or even with some physical interventions, a group of people with a given condition are given active therapy or medication. The outcomes in this group are compared with a group of people who are given a placebo, but most often are not told which group they are in. Usually both groups improve, even people give the placebo. If the medication is successful, the people on active medication will improve more. The the placebo group improvement is called the placebo effect.
The placebo effect is thought to stem from a belief that a given intervention will help. People convince themselves that the medication is working, and miraculously it does. But the placebo does not change the body physiologically. Or so we thought.
Is the Placebo Inert?
One colossal challenge to the concept of a placebo, is that many studies have shown that a placebo is not inert. Meaning that your body has physiological reactions to taking a placebo. This could mean that belief in a specific drug or intervention actually stimulates your body to heal.
This is particularly true with chronic pain. Early placebo studies have shown that placebo intervention for pain relief actually influence the releases natural pain killers in your brain.
The All Encompassing Placebo
Many of the placebo researchers go further. A placebo is any aspect of a given intervention that may help you feel better, but without a specific physiological interaction with the body. This idea encompasses the whole experience of an individual. The environment of the office, the taste of the pill or tea, and how much the practitioner listens to you. The article even discusses how different colors and shapes of pills have various placebo effects.
A powerful concept in placebo research examines how a given intervention, be it medication, massage, or surgery, is more than simply the intervention itself. For example, my statistics professor at Mount Sinai would often discuss the fact that the clinical trial itself is a placebo. Patients in a clinical trial tend to do better on their medication than the general public. This could be because they feel special, receiving a new medication, being treated by expert doctors with a large staff at their disposal. Then, in the general public, the medications tend to work less well.
Doctor Patient relationship
Kaptchuk would like to explore how best to harness the power of placebos in the healing process. He has focused on the patient doctor interaction as placebo. He even ran a clinical trial of a placebo intervention on IBS where the patients were actually told they were taking a placebo, and that it had clinical efficacy in the past. And amazingly, it worked.
However, this dilemma brings a difficulty with the word placebo. Doctor patient relationship is a skill. A skill that many medical schools have begun to teach, as we loose this skill to technological advances.
Perhaps careful explanation, a caring tone, and an ear to listen can be called a placebo, as it is a non-specific intervention. It is not a chemical pill or an herbal remedy. However, it is also a skill, that can be developed and improved. Kaptchuk would certainly agree with teaching how to wield the healing power of the doctor patient relationship.
Yet, the placebo has a negative tone with the medical establishment, and also much of the population, because we are being fooled into getting better. Perhaps there needs to be a new name for a non-specific intervention.
Placebo: The Social Stigma
What is radical about the placebo idea is that nobody wants to believe that a placebo helps them. And its not just Western medical physicians. Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, and other modalities, as well as patients, fight against the idea that whatever intervention is helping, is a placebo. That means its all in your head.
Kaptchuk and others want to change this stigma. Even if the placebo is all in your head, so what. You feel better. You’re healthier and that’s what counts. But what’s interesting, in some cases, the placebo intervention can actually alter physiology of the body.
A Placebo or Common Sense
A comforting office environment has often be chalked up to placebo. But why would you not want to be comfortable in a doctor’s office with soothing colors and music? It is nerve wrecking enough to go to the doctor. And stress has a real effect on the body. It is just common sense to make the office nice.
I think there is a danger when discussing design of a pill and patient doctor interaction both as placebo because this could reduce the importance of the doctor patient relationship.
Acupuncture itself is an interesting question about the placebo effect. I have a hunch that Kaptchuk believes that acupuncture has a real physiological effect, as he has been involved in many studies comparing acupuncture physiology to placebo physiology, and there is often a difference. But it is not discussed in the article, because the point is that it helps people feel better.
Harnessing the Placebo
The field of studying the placebo itself is young. It questions central tenets to clinical research and shows that our bodies can physically heal ourselves of certain chronic conditions. We do not just react to medication, but also to caring, touch, and the environment.
Like much of good science, these studies bring up more questions than they answer. What is the most important aspect of placebo to focus on. Soft voice, listening to the patient, the examination. Or is it the office lighting, soft colors, and music. As the definition expands, the concept of the placebo can encompass almost anything.
Probably the best way to harness the power of many aspects of the placebo is by not calling it a placebo. Doctor patient relationship, a comforting healing environment, and physical touch are all words that don’t have the placebo stigma. These all help the patient get better, which is what is most important.
Lack of social acceptance in the public and medical community is a challenge that the research will not be able to overcome.