Ahh, picture a serene Los Angeles setting with soft lights and relaxing music.The gentle wafts of incense lilt through the air.You see yourself relaxing comfortably, in a quasi-dreamlike state with acupunctures needles stuck in your shoulder, knee, or back, the local site of pain.You’re in your acupuncturist’s office.
Your pain?Oh, who cares?You’re relaxing and even though this is your fourth or fifth treatment with marginal progress, you enjoy the experience and have noted some unintended benefits of your treatment, perhaps better sleep, less overall tension, and a greater sense of well-being.You’ve heard of the benefits of acupuncture for pain and have little reason to believe that by lying on the table your treatment process is in any way lacking.Alas, gentle reader, this is where the sad fact must be divulged: lyin’ is for fools.
“What sayest thou?” you ask.Let me answer by laying a bit of a framework for understanding the “art” aspects of acupuncture.Within the body of acupuncture theory are numerous systems, which in my experience have varying effectiveness toward varying conditions.Some of these systems are classically based, meaning they were developed over 2000 yrs ago.Other systems are innovations, based on understandings of neurology, polarity, and Western-based science principles.Standard acupuncture education in China and in the US is based is an amalgam of Western-based science principles and classical indications, with an emphasis on the former, rather than the latter.Hence, it is most common for musculoskeletal conditions to be treated at the affected area, which makes sense.If your shoulder hurts, why not stick a needle in it?
Well, the answer might lie in the basic purpose of Chinese medicine, which is fundamentally about balance.There are many ways in which balance may be affected, but needling the problem area is likely the least of these.The art aspect of the practice centers about finding the balancing point, the point where the least amount of intervention occurs with the greatest benefit for the patient.
This brings us to why, lyin’ on the table for musculoskeletal conditions is foolish.Let me offer a recent case of a 41 y.o. female with a toe-sprain, where she was unable to place weight upon her foot without excruciating pain.The patient stated the pain was at a 10 when walking and 8 without walking.Upon selecting a balancing point, which most certainly was NOT in the foot, the patient instantly felt improvement.Then, she was asked to place weight upon the foot, while the balancing point was stimulated.We walked around the room while she “tested” it out.The needling lasted about 15 minutes and she walked, tender, but able to place weight upon her foot.The pain diminished by her account to a 3, when walking and NO pain otherwise.There are possibly many explanations why active acupuncture is so darn miraculous.To my mind, it has to do with the balancing that occurs between the injured area and the balancing point through movement.
In my experience passive, relaxing treatments are appropriate for internal conditions, such as insomnia, gastro-intestinal disorders, and emotional imbalance but are not effective for musculoskeletal conditions.If you experience shoulder, knee, hip, back or elbow pain and do not experience at least a 30% improvement after your two acupuncture treatment and were treated passively, I strongly recommend looking about for an acupuncturists who employs an active approach. The active approach provides instant feedback on the effectiveness of treatment and allows for on the fly adjustments based on the body’s feedback.No such dynamism can occur in a passive treatment.You will notice a huge difference in the reduction of pain and increased functionality.
For dynamic non-local treatments of pain, contact us at 323.936.5152