Don’t Fear the Needle

When people get acupuncture for the first time, they will often admit to being nervous about the needles.  Which isn’t surprising, they’re probably imagining a hypodermic or a sewing needle, when in actual fact, an acupuncture needle is about the thickness of a cat whisker.  It’s extremely flexible and when you look at one up close and maybe even flick it with your finger, its harmless nature is revealed.

Harmless but not powerless.  Those little needles, placed just so, all working together can accomplish amazing things.  They can ease pain, calm an anxious mind, increase circulation, decrease inflammation, stimulate a sluggish bowel or slow an overactive one, and on and on the list goes.  

sewingI’m hesitant to compare acupuncture and sewing for fear of fanning the flames of needle fear, but they have some beautiful similarities.  A row of tiny stitches can heal the hole in the toe of your favourite sock and make it stronger just as a few acupuncture needles correctly placed can mend your body’s pain.  In both, something tiny and precise can be used to strengthen a weak portion of the whole.

 

needle

Similes are fun!  Here is another one: acupuncture is like DJ’ing.  Huh?  Well, both use needles to create cohesion.  A DJ will use the turntable needle to line up the next song and create a seamless transition (hopefully), melding the two together.  Similarly, an acupuncturist uses their needles to establish consistency; regular acupuncture treatments over time can nudge the body into a new, more balanced pattern, one that is free of pain.  Like two perfectly synced songs, pain dissolves into pain-free, almost without the patient even noticing.

 

And why would they notice?  Acupuncture needles are silicone coated for patient comfort and are extremely delicate.  Did you know that you can fit forty of these little guys inside the opening of a hypodermic needle?  Forty!  So that gives you some perspective on whether or not to be nervous about acupuncture.

needlesOur advice: don’t fear the needle.  And if you still do, even after reading this post, just sing that phrase to yourself a few times.  Here is some back-up musical inspiration to help out:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUO_5EALZoM

craniosacral therapy

As each Fibromyalgia patient presents with a unique set of symptoms, there are many ways to go about treating it.  The degree of pain, where that pain sits in our bodies and what other conditions we might have that over lap with FM, it’s a long list of differences and similarities that FM sufferers share.  It’s important, therefore, to know what your options are when it comes to finding relief.
The idea of Integrative Medicine has come about as a way for health professionals to expand the effectiveness of their care.  At West End Chiropractic Clinic we find that sharing the patient care load great increases the results that patients get from visiting us.  Having acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, chiropractic and massage all under one roof allows us to offer a much more complete model of healing for our patients.
Chiropractic comes from the Greek words that mean “done by hand.”  Chiropractic works effectively on the nervous, muscular and skeletal systems to create and maintain balance in the body.  This in turn can often provide a great amount of relief from the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. To know if chiropractic therapy will work for you it is a good idea to get regular treatments for at least a 6-8 weeks before determining if it provides relief of your FM symptoms.
Chiropractors primary form of therapy is the spinal adjustment. The chiropractor will often use his fingers or hand to move the vertebrae slightly beyond the normal range of movement, creating enough space in the joint for the bone to re-align itself.  Although this is often what we think of as a chiropractic adjustment, chiropractors also use a variety of muscle and soft tissue release methods to allow for a longer lasting adjustment.

Craniosacral Therapy was developed by osteopathic physician, William Sutherland, and greatly furthered by John E. Upledger, following extensive scientific studies at Michigan State University, where he served as a clinical researcher and Professor of Bio mechanics.

Craniosacral Therapy is an extremely gentle but effective method for promoting the free movement of the craniosacral system. CST has many benefits, and people are finding that it strongly enhances the body’s own defenses against disease. Craniosacral therapy may be recommended for many disorders, including: migraine headaches, chronic neck and back pain, motor-coordination impairments, central nervous system disorders, orthopedic problems, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, scoliosis, infantile disorders, learning disabilities, chronic fatigue, emotional difficulties, stress and tension-related problems, neurovascular or immune disorders, Fibromyalgia and other connective-tissue disorders, autism, colic, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), post-traumatic stress disorder, and post-surgical dysfunction.
As with any form of treatment, you must decide whether something is right for you.  However, you owe it to yourself to try various treatments in your quest for health and healing.  Chiropractic and craniosacral therapy may just hold the answers you seek.

Benefits of Acupuncture

Here is a quick run down of some of the syndromes and disorders acupuncture can  benefit.  Acupuncture is commonly known to treat pain and injury of all types: back injury, tennis elbow, migraines, sports injuries, knee pain and the like.  However, acupuncture does more than just relieve pain.  Acupuncture has been shown to also treat anxiety, women’s issues, weight loss/obesity, infertility and conception, as well as insomnia and digestive disorders.  Even after listing all these disorders above, we still have only touched the tip of what acupuncture can be good for.Because acupuncture works on the somato-energetic level predominantly, it is safe and side-effects free.  Acupuncture performed by a trained professional is also almost completely painless, though at times mildly uncomfortable.

As the ancient Chinese did not, as a rule, have a problem with obesity, acupuncture does not have any set method for treating weight control.  However, as there is a large psychological element to weight control (cravings, etc.), acupuncture is often found to be very helpful with weight management.  Acupuncture has been shown to relieve cravings, both for food and substances.  Acupuncture is also a great stress reducer, as it stimulates the release of the body’s natural pain management chemicals, dopamine and seratonin.  Although there is never a replacement for willpower, acupuncture can help the dedicated person manage their weight.

Acupuncture can also treat eye disorders, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), nearsightedness, and cataracts.  Toothache and other forms of dental pain can be significantly reduced through acupuncture as well.  Other facial disorders such as Bell’s palsy and facial paralysis can, if treated quickly after onset, be well treated by acupuncture.   Studies have shown that getting acupuncture soon after a stroke can increase the rate and degree of recovery.

Acupuncture treats the whole person (not just the symptoms they are experiencing) on a physical, mental and emotional level. This means that treatment of physical problems also affects the way you feel about yourself.  Therefore, emotional disturbances such as anxiety, depression and mania may benefit from acupuncture.

Whatever your symptoms or disorder, it pays to educate yourself about different forms of effective therapy.  Studies have shown that educated patients often have a greater degree of recovery and a better outlook overall.

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Infertility

I’m nervoussaid:
Tonight will be the first time I’ve ever gotten acupuncture. Does anyone have any success stories to tell me, so I can feel less nervous? We are trying to conceive, so can you tell me if it really does help with pregnancy?

Is it normal to hurt MORE after the first visit for acupuncture?

Julie asked:
I am in chronic back pain (lumbar region), and have been for several years. I have tried a number of other therapies, including chiropracitc, physio and massage. I’ve wanted to try acupuncture, and yesterday went for my first treatment. Today, though, I feel like I’m in MORE pain than before! Is this normal, or has something bad happened? I know that with chronic pain it can take time to manage, but I did not expect to feel worse.

Acupuncture Reduces Pain, Need for Opioids after Surgery

Using acupuncture before and during surgery significantly reduces the level of pain and the amount of potent painkillers needed by patients after the surgery is over, according to Duke University Medical Center anesthesiologists who combined data from 15 small randomized acupuncture clinical trials.

Migraines

Migraines are a debilitating form of headache, as any sufferer will tell you. Acupuncture can greatly reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines, with no side effects.

Acupuncture & Pain

This is a great little introduction to acupuncture from the point of view of someone who had acupuncture during her pregnancy, along with a medical doctor’s comments about efficacy of acupuncture for a variety of ailments, including pain and pain management.

Back pain

Harve says:

After a terrible fall down some stairs a couple of years ago, my back has been in chronic, sometimes excruciating pain. I have been taking pain meds ever since, but I want to get better! Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Chiropractic adjustments have done very little, so I’m looking for something else. Could acupuncture really help? Thanks!

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