Using Electronic Stimulation with Acpuncture

E-stim with AcupunctureI employ a variety of techniques to treat patients at Rivertown Acupuncture, including the use of electric stimulation with acupuncture needles. Here is a brief overview of the range of conditions e-stim can help to alleviate.

Electric stimulation, or e-stim, is very effective for augmenting trigger point therapy, which is by definition intramuscular stimulation. Instead of the practitioner inserting needles into ‘motor points’ (i.e., areas of constriction within the muscle) and manually stimulating to initiate fasciculation, the needles are instead connected to cables that conduct electricity. This is especially effective for chronic conditions such as sciatica, plantar fasciitis and low back pain.

However, electric stimulation can treat many more conditions than muscle constriction.

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Acupuncture and Migraine Relief

migraineMigraine headaches are one of the most painful conditions people can suffer, even disabling people for days at a time. Unfortunately they’re not uncommon, affecting 18 percent of women and 6 percent of men in the United States. A migraine can involve a throbbing sensation, usually on one side of the head or in a certain location on the head. Sometimes migraine sufferers also experience nausea, vomiting, and severe sensitivity to light. Finding an effective solution can be challenging, but new research indicates that acupuncture may reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of migraines.

According to findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a team of Chinese scientists determined that acupuncture reduces the frequency of migraines for those who suffer from migraines without auras (there are different types of migraines, one of which features auras or visual sensations) after twenty weeks of treatment at the rate of five times a week. Patients receiving acupuncture also experienced fewer days total suffering from migraines with less severe symptoms overall. These are potentially positive indications that acupuncture could help to mitigate migraine pain for those who find it so debilitating.

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Acupuncture and Palliative Care

Acupuncture and Palliative Care | Rivertown AcupuncturePalliative care, which aims to provide patients suffering from serious illnesses with meaningful relief from the symptoms and stress they are experiencing, is becoming a more prominent aspect of medical care today. Ultimately, palliative care is a holistic approach designed to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their loved ones. In this respect, it is quite well aligned with acupuncture’s holistic approach to treating illness, since acupuncture also aims to reduce stress and address symptoms in such a way that strengthens the body’s immune response and gives the patient renewed energy and vitality.

It’s important to note that palliative care is distinct from hospice care, although the two methods of treatment are sometimes confused with one another. Palliative care focuses on relieving patients’ suffering during a serious illness whether they have received a terminal diagnosis or not. In fact, it can be administered alongside curative treatment that seeks to heal the illness and restore the patient to full health. Hospice care, by contrast, tends solely to the needs of a patient who is at the end of life stage of their illness.

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Suffering from Back Pain? Acupuncture Can Help.

Acupuncture for Back Pain ReliefIf you’ve ever thrown your back out, you know it’s a pretty frightening and acutely painful experience. It can happen suddenly and without any warning, and when it does you may be unsure of what to do. Sharp, agonizing back pain can show up when you’re engaged in heavy lifting, like carrying boxes from one room to the next, but it can also hit when you’re doing something simple and routine, like bending over to pick up a pen. Not only does back pain hurt, but it can affect your range of motion and quality of life as well.

So what should you do when your back goes out? Get yourself to the acupuncturist. Specifically, get yourself to the acupuncturist who knows trigger point (dry needling) therapy. Nearly 8 out of 10 people will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, back pain is one of the top conditions that lead patients to seek medical treatment, which can often offer no more than pain-killers and anti-inflammatory drugs. When it comes to diagnosing back pain, it’s important to note that there are several potential causes with different remedies to match. Back pain could arise from a muscle spasm or a disk injury, for example. Less commonly, an infection or a tumor might be to blame.

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How to Get Relief from Rotator Cuff Injuries

torn-rotator-cuffRotator cuff injuries can result in severe shoulder pain, sending stabbing pangs into your shoulder area every time you raise your arm above or behind your head. Although rotator cuff ailments are most often observed in people over 65 years of age, they can occur in younger people as well. They typically happen in cases where someone overuses their shoulder with overhead motions, like pitching a baseball or lifting heavy equipment. This can result in partial or complete tearing of the muscles or tendons in the shoulder.

Sometimes the pain is so intense that it can wake you from your sleep at night. You may also experience difficulty performing simple tasks like combing your hair or reaching behind your back. Or, you may encounter weakness in your arm or dullness in your shoulder. A rotator cuff injury tends to worsen the longer that it goes untreated, particularly if you repeatedly use or place pressure on the shoulder, which may further agitate and inflame the injury.

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Acupuncture as Complementary Care to Cancer Treatment

Cancer affects a large percentage of the U.S. population. Many of us have either battled it ourselves or know someone who has. Although it may sound like a monolithic disease, cancer can be unique from each situation to the next according to the type of cancer involved and the stage at which it is diagnosed. Typically, it involves what the Mayo Clinic calls “the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue.” And cancer can metastasize, spreading to other systems in the body, if it is not caught in time.

Acupuncture helps alleviate cancer treatment symptomsReceiving a cancer diagnosis can be frightening experience, and the journey to recovery is often long and arduous. But there are many therapies available, including acupuncture treatment, that can help alleviate many of the most painful aspects of the disease as well as the after-effects of surgery and chemotherapy. Acupuncture in particular is well suited to provide individualized treatment for the specific ailments from which a cancer patient may suffer.

Chief among the cancer-related symptoms that patients often experience are vomiting and nausea; acupuncture can help reduce their frequency and severity. Acupuncture can also control pain and boost the immune system’s response, which is especially important during a time of healing and recovery. Because of these benefits, acupuncture treatments can also sometimes reduce the need for chemical therapies and other medications that would otherwise be prescribed.

It is not uncommon for cancer patients to experience depression, anxiety, fear, stress, or insomnia. Fatigue is also a frequent complaint. These are all ailments that acupuncture is well suited to treat, as it restores the proper flow of energy throughout the body by promoting better circulation, lowering your heart rate, and relaxing you through the release of endorphins. This can have the effect of improving your mood and overall sense of well-being, making it easier for you to find balance and serenity while undergoing treatment.

More people are beginning to include acupuncture as part of their cancer care plan. Many hospitals now house acupuncturists in their oncology departments, for example, and we treat cancer patients here at Rivertown Acupuncture as well. If you or a loved one has cancer, it may be worth your while to discover how acupuncture can help treat your symptoms, boost your energy, and give you the positive outlook you need to make a strong recovery.


Dry Needling is Acupuncture

As of late, some controversy has arisen between acupuncturists and physical therapists (PTs) as PTs have been expanding their scope of practice to include acupuncture, or “dry needling”. This isn’t a vanity argument — acupuncturists aren’t “jealous” about sharing their craft. We do want to protect our profession and our reputations. The issue revolves around the training that physical therapists receive and the way many in the industry have been trying to redefine what dry needling entails.

Let’s set the record straight: dry needling is acupuncture; saying otherwise is false.

The assertion that dry needling isn’t acupuncture because meridians and acupuncture points aren’t involved is misleading. As trained acupuncturists, we employ trigger point needling (dry needling) as part of an acupuncture treatment, usually for the purpose of releasing constricted muscle fibers that cause pain.

Dry Needling is Acupuncture | Rivertown AcupunctureThis technique consists of inserting needles into sore, tender or tight muscles with the objective of providing pain relief by causing fasciculation of constricted muscle fibers. Insertion points sometimes coincide with known acupuncture points, but often are motor points, where the muscle is most easily excited. Regardless — needles are being inserted into the body. That’s an invasive procedure and as such requires additional training.

State certified acupuncturists go through a full time, three to four-year Masters program that consist of a minimum of 3,000 hours of study, 660 clinical hours and 350 patient visits. One of the key aspects of acupuncture training is learning where and how — and where and how not — to insert needles.

Conversely, PTs that assert they have received training in dry needling techniques have usually completed no more than a 27-hour weekend certification course. Read one licensed Texas acupuncturist’s experience with a “dry needling certification” course in her area.

New York State (along with California, Florida, Idaho, Hawaii, Utah, Washington) has banned dry needling from the scope of what physical therapists may offer, in part because there are real risks involved with the use of acupuncture needles by physical therapists. Some of these risks include pneumothorax, blood vessel, nerve and organ injury, or infection due to not following clean needle protocols.

If you are suffering from an acute muscle injury or chronic repetitive injury, please try trigger point therapy. It’s a quick way to safely address many types of pain.


Treating Sciatica with Acupuncture

What causes sciatica?

Treating Sciatica with Acupuncture | Rivertown AcupunctureSciatica is caused by an inflammation of the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body which itself is comprised of numerous smaller nerve endings. Sciatic pain generally extends from the lower back/lumbar area down through the leg and can be crippling and chronic for those who suffer from it.

Inflammation of the sciatic nerve happens when something pushes on the it — it could be something as simple as a muscle contraction or something more complex, like a herniated disc or even the spine itself. One of the most common causes of sciatic nerve pain is a “slipped disc.” This occurs when a small part of the spinal disc protrudes from the spinal column, against into the sciatic nerve.

How we treat sciatica with acupuncture, moxa and Tui Na.

Chinese medicine is used to treat numerous types of chronic pain, including arthritis, back pain and low back pain such as sciatica. Depending upon the individual and whether the pain is acute or chronic, possible therapies may range from Tui Na to cupping to electric stimulation and trigger point needling / acupuncture.

Tui Na, an ancient form of Chinese compression massage, uses different types of hand techniques that resemble western massage such as rolling, kneading, gliding and others. This form of massage is designed to help adjust the spine, enhance circulation and to adjust the body into balance.

Acupuncture and trigger point therapy are primary tools in reducing sciatica type pain. There are specific muscles that, when contracted, squeeze nerves and elicit a sharp pain response. Employing a needle to coax the muscle into a fasciculation, a trigger response, often provides great relief. Trigger point needling is always performed within a matrix of an acupuncture treatment chosen to enhance the healing process. Often moxa is burned either as a finish or an alternative to needling.

After a few sessions patients often see vast improvements in managing their sciatic pain