Monday, November 26, 2007

What Is Acupuncture And How It Works

Hi all,
Acupuncture has been a saving grace for my chronic pain. I wanted to share with you some general information about what Acupuncture is.

Acupuncture is believed to be developed by Chinese over 2000 years ago, or may even date back as long as 5000 years. It is an important part of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture is about placing fine, slender needles into the skin at certain pressure points in the body, known as acupuncture points, to help alleviate pain, relieve spasms, stimulate the immune function to promote healing, and generally improve the quality of physical, mental, and spiritual health in various ways.

The principle of acupuncture treatment is to encourage the "qi", or the vital energy of the body, to flow smoothly in the channels, known as meridians. The Chinese believe that qi is flowing through every living thing in the universe and it has many different forms and functions. Within a person, qi has five major functions--warming, movement, protection, transportation and transformation, and supporting. Through these functions, the human body is able to maintain its stabilization and integrity. The qi primarily comes from three sources. Original qi is transmitted from parents to their children. This qi is mainly responsible for the inherited constitution of a person. Grain qi is nutritive qi that is generated from diet and digestion. Natural qi is the qi we acquire through breathing. Grain qi and natural qi are mainly responsible for the body constitution after birth.

In the medical sense, when qi is out of balance, blocked, or stagnated, illness and pain result. There are fourteen major meridians throughout the human body, including twelve primary meridians which are associated with the twelve major organ systems of the body and two extra meridians arising from genital area to the head at the center of the trunk, front and back. There are points more than 360 acupuncture points, most fall along the fourteen meridians. Those points that do not belong to the meridians are called extra points. Extra points usually have unique and specific healing functions.

To treat illness or pain, needles are placed into these acupuncture points which correspond with the location of the disharmony of the qi. The stimulation from needling can restore the flow of the qi and return the balance of the body system, thereby alleviate the pain and improve the symptomatic problems. For acute cases, such as ankle sprain, a small amount of electrical current attached to the end of the acupuncture needles at certain frequency can be used to provide the points with added stimulus.

In addition to needling, the acupuncturist applies heated herbal cones or sticks above the appropriate acupuncture points , known as moxibustion, to send warmth down into the points for cold diseases. They also use small glass or plastic cups sucked on the skin of the back, known as cupping, to draw out the toxins, resolve the stagnation, and improve the circulation at the local area. If somebody suffers a heat stroke due to the summer heat, scraping will be used at the upper back and neck area to release the heat. Acupuncture massage, known as tui-na, is a form of massage that focuses power on acupuncture points to relieve muscle tension and pain. Some times the acupuncturist will use a combination of acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and massage as treatment protocol for individual needs.

When a patient seeks acupuncture treatment, the acupuncturist will examine him or her using four basic TCM diagnostic methods--observation, hearing, questioning, and palpation. The acupuncturist will perform pulse and tongue diagnoses to see how well the patient is at the time of visit. The pulse and tongue diagnoses are unique to TCM. The pulse diagnosis reflects the energetics of the five vital organs, including heart, liver, lung, spleen, and kidney. The shape, texture, and color of the tongue are indications for the dysfunctions of the vital organs and the depletion of the qi in the body. Based on the information collected from the patient, the acupuncturist is then able to choose the best treatment methods and select points for acupuncture treatment.

General speaking, acupuncture treatment is either painless or of trivial discomfort since the needles are very fine and solid. The patient may experience a small twinge of pain at certain acupuncture points where the skin is more sensitive to needling or the qi is more abundant, but the feeling should subside shortly after the puncture and as the treatment continues.

Acupuncture is relatively safe. There are few side effects to the use of acupuncture reported each year. The most common side effect is bruise or soreness around the needled area. To minimize the side effect, a trained acupuncturist will apply pressure on the needled area for 1 minute once the needle is withdrawn. Occasionally, the patient may experience a slightly sedated feeling. This situation can be caused by an empty stomach; therefore, you need to eat at least one hour before the treatment. Another side effect is infection. To avoid infection, you can ask the acupuncturist to use disposable needles for every treatment. If the acupuncturist does not use disposable needles, make sure the sterilization procedures are appropriate.

Acupuncture can be used to treat many illness, ranging from slight local pain to ascites (fluid retention in the peritoneal cavity). Although its effectiveness is still under evaluation, acupuncture has been used in the medical field in many countries of the world.

Until Next time!

Wishing you Health and Happiness Always

Michele Brooks,RN, Editor

PS: For a Great way to Cleanse, Replenish and Revitalize Your Body AND address the biggest wellness challenges facing humankind: toxicity, stress, and obesity Click here now

Friday, November 23, 2007

Living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)? Have You Tried Alternative Medicine?

Hi All,
I was inspired by an online friend of mine to enter this article I put together about those who live with Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain syndrome with two forms. CRPS 1 or what used to be called "reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome". It is a chronic nerve disorder which occurs most often in the arms or legs after a minor or major injury. CRPS 1 is associated with severe pain; changes in the nails, bone, and skin; and an increased sensitivity to touch in the affected limb. CRPS 2 replaces the term causalgia, and results from an identified injury to the nerve.

CRPS often develops after an injury or infection that has occurred in an arm or leg. It can also occur after heart attacks and strokes. However, the condition can sometimes appear without obvious injury to the affected limb. The cause of CRPS is thought to result from damage to the nervous system which includes the nerves that control the blood vessels and sweat glands.

The Nerves that are damaged affect the body in that they can no longer properly control blood flow, sensation, and temperature to the affected area. This leads to medical problems in the nerves, blood vessels, skin, bones, and muscles. Those aged 40-60 have been seen to be affected the most by this condition.

There are 3 stages of symptoms involved with CRPS, however, often CRPS does not follow this progression. Some people go into the later stages almost immediately. Others remain in Stage 1 indefinitely.

Stage 1 which lasts 1-3 months, has the following symptoms:

Severe burning, aching pain increasing with the slightest touch or breeze Swelling with warmth or coolness Skin becomes dry and thin, changes color Increased nail and hair growth Pain may move further up or down the affected limb.

Stage 2 which lasts 3-6 months, has the following symptoms:

Swelling spreads Noticeable changes in skin texture and color Decreased hair growth Changes in bone seen in x-rays Stiff muscles and joints.

In Stage 3 irreversible changes become evident.

Pain may exist in the entire limb Permanent tissue changes Muscle wasting Limited mobility in limb Contractions involving muscles and tendons Depression or changes in mood may accompany these symptoms, especially in stage 3.
Diagnosing CRPS can be difficult, but early diagnosis is very important. Often, the symptoms are severe compared to the original trauma or injury.

The key complaint is the severe, burning pain.

Treatment should be started as early as possible. This may prevent the disease from progressing. Treatment usually includes a combination of therapies but there is no single treatment, such as a pill or nerve block, that can cure CRPS, but many CRPS patients do find that their pain and other symptoms get much better with the right therapies.
CRPS can improve when patients get treatments that lessen the pain (such as nerve blocks, medicines, and other treatments)

Every patient with CRPS responds differently to each therapy -- what works well for one patient may not work at all for another. Because of this, doctors may need to try many different medical therapies in different combinations. It is often best for patients with CRPS to see pain specialists, who are experienced in taking care of patients with difficult pain problems. Alternative treatments can play a definite part in the overall relief of the Pain caused by CRPS.

Some patients get pain relief from acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). With acupuncture, needles are placed in specific areas on the skin to help relieve pain. With TENS, patients carry a small, box-shaped device that sends electrical impulses into the body through electrodes. These electrical impulses interfere with pain signals.

Foods may help as well specifically capsicum, the pungent component of hot peppers which reduces pain and inflammation. There are Herbs that reduce inflammation as well that can help including: Saw Palmetto, Rosemary, Bromelain, Cat�s Claw, Licorice, and Valaria

The following herbs are considered anti-spasmodics:
Angelica, Cramp Bark, and Black Haw

The following are Natural Pain Relievers:
Feverfew and Burdock.

Biofeedback has also been known to help.

Hypnosis performed by a professional or self hypnosis taught to you by professional may help as well.

Physical and occupational therapists can help patients with CRPS by teaching programs of stretching, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning. The overall goal is to help the patient get back range of motion, strength and motor control. Physical and occupational therapists might also try treatments including the following:

* Gentle massage

* Alternating hot and cold application

* Cryotherapy

* Active and passive range of motion

* Whirlpool therapy

* Moist heat

* Elevation of the region

* Compressive garments (ie, ischemic compression)

* Paraffin baths

* Diathermy

* Biofeedback

* Desensitization (performed sequentially to decrease hypersensitivity)

Acupuncture can also help with the pain. Acupuncture is a therapy developed more than 2,000 years ago in Asia that consists of stimulating designated points by the insertion of needles to restore and balance the body's energy. Acupuncture can produce regional anesthesia by conducting a weak electric current through the inserted needles. Explanation of how it produces anesthesia currently is being investigated.

Until Next time!

Wishing you Health and Happiness Always

Michele Brooks,RN, Editor

PS: For a Great way to Cleanse, Replenish and Revitalize Your Body AND address the biggest wellness challenges facing humankind: toxicity, stress, and obesity Click here now