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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. 1. How to choose acupuncture points: 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.

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

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

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 What Acupuncturists Look For in a Tongue Taking the Pulse in Chinese Medicine If you have a specific question about acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine, let me know in the comment section.

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

Acupuncturists have a choice in terms of how long the needles are left in the acupuncture points.  Different times have different clinical effects. Most often, the acupuncture needles are retained in the acupuncture points for 20-30 minutes.  Traditionally we say it takes 30 minutes for the qi, the body’s energy, to circulate in the channels. But if it is an acute situation, such as a back spasm, it is generally better to leave the acupuncture needles in for about 20 minutes.  This is because the muscles will relax quicker in an acute injury like a back spasm. When the energy is weak, what we call qi deficiency, it is better to leave the needles in for a longer period of

Chronic pain is mysterious.  It can come and go.  It can get worse, or get better.  Often without explanation. Chronic pain is serious.  It interferes with work, school, and relationships.  Chronic pain is the most common issue that comes into my acupuncture clinic. Pain can effect almost any place in the body: headaches, back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, knee pain, and any other location. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain Acupuncture is a complex therapy and works in a combination of ways to reduce pain and inflammation. 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

Observing the tongue and taking the pulse are two of the most common diagnostic techniques in Chinese medicine. Why look at the tongue? Chinese medicine uses diagnostic approaches, like the tongue and the pulse, because they reflect the imbalances that are causing your health problem. What are we looking for in the tongue? When I am looking at the tongue, I am looking at the the color of the tongue, the size and shape of the tongue body, and the coating on top of the tongue. If the tongue is very red, or very pale that can show there is heat, or qi deficiency. If the tongue body is purplish, it can show stagnation, a lack of circulation in the

This is the fifth in a series about acupuncture and IVF written by Jessica Yunker, one of my associates.  Jessica is an expert in infertility, womens’ health, and acupuncture for IVF. Acupuncturists and fertility clinics often recommend acupuncture on the day of IVF transfer. There is quite a bit of research indicating that acupuncture improves the chances of a successful transfer and pregnancy. On the transfer day, your acupuncturist will meet with you two times – immediately before and immediately after the transfer happens at your doctor’s office. In my practice, the acupuncture / transfer schedule looks something like this: You are scheduled for an appointment with the fertility doctor for the transfer. We meet at my acupuncture office about

This article is the third in a series about acupuncture and IVF was written by Jessica Yunker, my associates.  Jessica is an expert in infertility, women’s health, and acupuncture for IVF. Most fertility clinics and fertility specialists follow a similar protocol for IVF. First, a doctor will perform blood tests and give medications that regulate the woman’s menstrual cycle and boost the number of eggs she produces each month. Next, the doctor retrieves the eggs and combines them with sperm in the lab, making sure to select the eggs and sperm that look most healthy. In some cases, sperm may be injected directly into the egg, a process called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Once the eggs are fertilized, they are