Tailbone Pain During Pregnancy Resolved With Acupuncture

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Pregnancy is such an exciting time in life. The hopes and dreams of a beautiful baby entering this world fills the expecting family with joy. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of pain and misery for the expectant mom. Many changes occur during pregnancy in a very short time period, placing tremendous stress on the body. These include both hormonal changes as well as structural changes to the spine and pelvis.

The combination of hormones to loosen the ligaments in preparation for delivery along with the weight gain and shift in center of gravity associated with a growing baby can result in debilitating pain. A common source of this pain is the coccyx, otherwise known as the tailbone. This small bone is attached to the sacrum, the triangular bone that sits between your hips and creates the foundation of the spine. The coccyx is held to the sacrum through a variety of muscles and ligaments. As noted, these ligaments are the target of hormones that make them stretchy, resulting in pain.

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As a physician that practices holistic healing, that is, allowing the body to heal itself, recommending medication or surgery are always my last resort. When it comes to pregnancy, the use of medication is even more concerning. So what is a woman to do, simply suffer through the pain?  Enter acupuncture!

Over the years I have had the opportunity to help many people resolve their pain safely and effectively through acupuncture. This includes tailbone pain, also known as coccydynia. Although many of these people suffered a traumatic fall while others had no specific incident that they could blame, most responded extremely well to acupuncture. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal:

Acupuncture and stabilising exercises constitute efficient complements to standard treatment for the management of pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy. Acupuncture was superior to stabilizing exercises in this study.

Sue came to me 18 weeks pregnant. While the pregnancy itself was going very well, about three weeks prior to seeing me she began to suffer from severe tailbone pain. She noted it was a 10 on a 1-10 scale of severity. She worked as an administrative assistant, sitting for most of the day which further exacerbated her symptoms. By early afternoon, she could barely do her job as the pain became unbearable.

When she came to see me, we discussed the benefits of acupuncture. While a bit hesitant, she was willing to give it a try as desperation had set in. After a week of treatment her pain was significantly decreased. She was able to sit through the day, although still experienced some soreness by days end (I reminded her that she was still pregnant!).

In my experience, acupuncture can provide miraculous results very quickly and fortunately this was the case for Sue. What’s most exciting for me is providing my pregnant moms safe and effective relief without medication. Sue now sees me on an as needed basis and we both look forward to the delivery of her baby this coming fall!

Reduce Inflammation Without Medication Using Acupuncture

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You may have heard that acupuncture helps with pain, but did you know if actually helps resolve inflammation? Many people either take over the counter pain medication (including aspirin and ibuprofen) or prescription medication (such as Voltaren or Celebrex) for pain. The common connection with these medications is they work by reducing inflammation.

Unfortunately, they also come with potentially significant side effects. These include:

  • heartburn
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness

Inflammation is not a bad thing. It has been demonized as the big bad wolf. Here is the key, inflammation is not bad, excess or chronic inflammation is bad. The inflammatory process is essential for health and healing. It helps clear out debris while drawing in vital nutrients necessary for repair.

Excessive inflammation leads to pain and dysfunction. So the key is to turn down the inflammation while allowing the body to heal. How can this be done with medication? It’s virtually impossible because every injury is unique. However, acupuncture simply dials in the optimal levels to stimulate  healing and reduce pain. According to researchers:

Acupuncture literally flips a switch wherein initial inflammatory responses are reduced and the secondary healing responses are promoted.

M1 macrophage downregulation and M2 macrophage upregulation triggered by acupuncture was positively associated with reductions in muscle pain and inflammation.

Next time you injure yourself, instead of reaching for the Ibuprofen, find natural relief with acupuncture.

Unlocking the Pain of Trigger Finger Through Acupuncture

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According to the Mayo Clinic:

Trigger finger is a condition in which one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. Your finger may bend or straighten with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released.

Trigger finger is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis (stuh-NO-sing ten-o-sin-o-VIE-tis). It occurs when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. If trigger finger is severe, your finger may become locked in a bent position.

As you might imagine (or may know personally), trigger finger is not only painful, but can be debilitating, especially if you use your hands for your livelihood. Such was the case with my patient, Tom. He was a guitarist who worked as a music therapist. When I first saw him, he was quite troubled. Let me have Tom tell you his story through his testimonial:

As a Music Therapist, my ability to play guitar on a daily basis is an integral part of my job. Without the proper use of my hands, I wouldn’t be able to make a living. Not long ago a stage light fell from a lighting tree and – while instinctively reaching to rescue the fixture – my fingers were pulled backward by the weight of the falling equipment. Consequently, I developed a ‘trigger finger.’ My finger would suddenly flip open whenever I was attempting to make a fist or enclose my knuckles around an object… or simply attempt to play my guitar. Twice, I had doctors shoot cortisone into the hand, but after a few days the loss of mobility would return.
Next, the doctors were recommending surgery, which held no guarantee for mobility to ever be restored. It was then I discovered Dr. Perrine, who felt acupuncture could be of help. At first, I was apprehensive. In the past, I have fainted at the mere sight of needles – would acupuncture really help? But, David’s kind and gentle demeanor made me feel at ease. The treatment was comfortable and without any negative consequence. After a few short weeks, the treatments were taking hold and my finger was returned back to normal. My guitar playing abilities were restored – and my job saved. Thank you, David!

That’s Tom’s story, but what does the research reveal? Is it effective and if so, how does it work? Since trigger finger is generally an inflammatory condition, it makes sense that if we can reduce the inflammation, we can resolve the problem. As Tom noted in his story, the medical answer was cortisone injections. Although they may help temporarily, they can simply cover up the symptoms. Acupuncture, on the other hand, helps the body heal itself. You can treat the symptoms (injection/medication) or correct the cause (acupuncture). What’s most beneficial in regards to acupuncture’s affect on inflammation is the fact that it is natural and localized. Cortisone injections are localized but not natural while oral medications are neither localized nor natural.

In a recent study from the Journal of the British Medical Acupuncture, 15 patients suffering from trigger finger were giving a trial of acupuncture. The findings were significant. According to the researchers:

Pain and snapping severity were significantly improved immediately after the first treatment. Significant improvement in the severity of snapping was also observed as treatment progressed. We postulate that acupuncture may reduce inflammation/swelling of the synovial membrane of the tendon sheath, which predominates when the disorder is of short duration.

If you find yourself “stuck” with no relief in sight, make it a “point” to try acupuncture. As trigger finger is not a life threatening condition that requires immediate resolution, give it at least 8-10 treatments before you move on to other alternatives such as injections or surgery. It might amaze you how significant and longstanding your relief may be.

 

 

Acupuncture Proves Effective For Knee Arthritis

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Knee pain related to arthritis is quite common, particularly as we age. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the knee. It is a degenerative,”wear-and-tear” type of arthritis that occurs most often in people 50 years of age and older, but may occur in younger people, too. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away.

Conventional treatment generally includes pain medication and anti-inflammatories. While they can be beneficial, long term use can result in serious side effects including kidney and liver damage. Even short term side effects of these medications can be significant and include: upset stomach, mild heartburn, nausea, vomiting; bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, headache, nervousness, mild itching or rash, and ringing in your ears. Thank you, but I’d rather pass.

What if I told you there was a treatment that was both safe and effective for arthritis of the knees. What if I also told you this treatment has been tested clinically for thousands of years. Since you are reading this, the obvious answer is found in acupuncture.

In a study by researchers from the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture received five times a week for four weeks significantly reduced pain and improved stiffness in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

More than 550 patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis took part in the 26-week trial. The participants were randomly assigned to receive one of three treatments: acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or self-help strategies recommended by the Arthritis Foundation (the latter served as a control group).

In another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, significant differences in response were seen by week eight and fourteen, and at the end of the trial, the group receiving real acupuncture had a 40 percent decrease in pain and a nearly 40 percent improvement in function compared to baseline assessments — a 33 percent difference in improvement over the sham group. They note:

Acupuncture seems to provide improvement in function and pain relief as an adjunctive therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee when compared with credible sham acupuncture and education control groups.

Most exciting to me is the fact that acupuncture, when used to treat chronic knee pain, has been shown to provide relief for months after treatment has ended. In one particular study, patients still noted relief 12 weeks later.

From this systematic review, we conclude that acupuncture may be effective at relieving chronic knee pain 12 weeks after acupuncture administration, based on the current evidence and our protocol.

As the detrimental side effects of pain medication continue to mount, patients as well as medical doctors are seeking safe alternatives. Acupuncture has proven be both safe and effective when it comes to the treatment of arthritis related pain.

 

 

Fatigue, Depression, and Sleep Relief For Cancer Patients Utilizing Acupuncture

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Acupuncture’s benefits extend to a myriad of health conditions. Research suggests acupuncture works as well as counseling for treating depression, for instance. It may also improve fatigue, anxiety and depression in cancer patients in as little as eight weeks.

Breast cancer patients undergoing treatment with aromatase inhibitors commonly suffer from joint pain that can cause a multitude of side effects including sleep disturbances and emotional distress. A study in the medical journal Cancer looked at acupuncture to see if patients might find relief. The findings were quite encouraging. According to researchers:

Compared with usual care, acupuncture produced significant improvements in fatigue, anxiety, and depression.

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As joint pain is a common side effect of aromatase inhibitor treatment for breast cancer, many patients will discontinue treatment prematurely due to the pain. Researchers from the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies reviewed a number of studies published to see if acupuncture might help reduce joint pain and therefore improve adherence to treatment. They also found benefits with acupuncture, noting:

The systematic review suggests that acupuncture has potential benefits to improve arthralgia caused by AIs (aromatase inhibitors).

Although cancer treatment can be extremely challenging both physically and emotionally, acupuncture has shown great promise for those fighting the battle. When it comes to defeating cancer, make sure acupuncture is part of your therapy.

 

Got Pain? Research Shows Acupuncture and Chiropractic Top Opioids.

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It is likely that you are aware of the fact that we have an opioid crisis. The increase in opioid overdose deaths has been dramatic, and opioids are now responsible for 49,000 of the 72,000 drug overdose deaths overall in the US in 2017. Below is an alarming statistic when it comes to opioids. Have you or a friend or family member been prescribed opioids for pain? If so, please read on to discover safe and natural alternatives.

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Federal officials cite the rising numbers of drug overdose deaths in pushing for changes in policy direction and public perception. Most drug overdose deaths (more than six in ten) involve opioids, according to the CDC. The number of overdose deaths have increased fourfold since 1999. More than a half million people have died from drug overdoses from 2000 to 2015. Opioid overdoses kill 91 Americans every day.

One of the major issues with opioids or pain medication in general is the fact that they are merely treating symptoms. If your smoke alarm were going off, would you pull out the battery or find the cause of the smoke? By altering brain chemistry, medications simply block pain signals (like pulling out the battery). Unfortunately, over time the body becomes accustomed to the original dosages and the brain requires more and more medication to attain the same response. As you might imagine, this is a recipe for disaster.

The most dangerous of all opioids is heroin. Study’s show that 4-6% of those who abuse opioids transition to heroin abuse. Rather than trick the brain with potentially deadly and addictive chemicals, let’s look at some treatments that can not only help with pain, but will often eliminate it for extended periods if not for good.

ACUPUNCTURE

Opioid receptors in the brain are so named because they are stimulated by opioid structured compounds such as those found in common pain medications. New research has proven that acupuncture stimulates these same receptors!

Recent data, obtained by using functional magnetic resonance imaging, suggest that acupuncture has regionally specific, quantifiable effects on relevant brain structures. Acupuncture may stimulate gene expression of neuropeptides.

Read this bold sentence once again: “Acupuncture may stimulate gene expression of neuropeptides.” This means that acupuncture not only creates short term relief but may also change how your genes function, helping to eliminate pain long term. Neuropeptides are the chemical messengers that the brain uses to communicate with the body. Doesn’t it make more sense to activate them naturally by employing acupuncture rather than utilizing potentially harmful and addictive medication?

CHIROPRACTIC

In March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines for prescribing opioids that also promote non-pharmacologic alternatives for the treatment of chronic pain. In 2015, the Joint Commission, the organization that accredits more than 20,000 health care systems in the U.S. including every major hospital, recognized the value of non-drug approaches by adding chiropractic and acupuncture to its pain management standard.

If you believe the medical community rejects chiropractic, times have changed. Research continues to mount touting the benefits of chiropractic care. The following study is from the prestigious medical journal Spine:

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Don’t become a statistic. Find the relief you desire without the use of medication. Join the millions of satisfied patients who have regained their health naturally through integrative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic!

 

 

Acid Reflux Has Met It’s Match With Acupuncture

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Acid reflux, also known as heart burn, dyspepsia or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is one of the most common conditions treated in our society. While there are many dietary recommendations I could make, this blog will focus specifically on acupuncture.

Symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • Burping
  • Regurgitation (sensation of acid backing up into the mouth and throat)
  • Nausea after eating
  • Stomach fullness or bloating
  • Upper abdominal pain and discomfort

While reflux is believed be the result of the over-production of acid, for many people it is actually the opposite. There are special cells in the stomach that secrete acid. This acid is essential for proper digestion to occur. Low acid causes gas buildup in the stomach that increases the pressure in the stomach, forcing stomach contents back up into the esophagus.

There is no doubt that acid blocking medication help relieve symptoms for many people, but it does not address the issue. If your smoke alarm was going off, would you pull the battery (cover up the burning pain) or fix the problem (restore normal stomach function)?

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So if medication works, what’s the big deal? According to the British Medical Journal:

Long term use of drugs to curb acid reflux linked to doubling in stomach cancer risk.

Now THAT is scary! It’s most likely that this is news to you. If so, you are not alone. The media is constantly filled with advertisements for reflux medication. These medications are quite lucrative as patients will generally remain on them for long periods because they merely cover the symptoms.

 

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Stomach acid plays an important role in breaking down food and absorbing nutrients as well as killing bacteria and microbes that enter the stomach. Long-term maintenance use of acid-suppressing drugs like proton pump inhibitors may disrupt these processes and make people more susceptible to both infections and nutritional deficits. The use of these acid inhibitors for any period of time is also associated with an increase of intestinal infections and a higher risk of Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea, a potentially life-threatening disease.

Unless you enjoy spending lots of money month after month while increasing your risk of serious side effects, let’s see how acupuncture can help. Researcher’s evaluated the effects of acupuncture for patients who had failed traditional drug therapy. Drumroll, please…

Researchers find acupuncture effective for alleviating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Patients unresponsive to drug therapy saw significant improvements after receiving acupuncture care. High resolution measurements of the esophagus confirm that acupuncture improves the activity of the valve whose proper functioning prevents acid reflux.

These patients not only felt better, medical testing proved that acupuncture actually improved the function of the stomach. So how did acupuncture help with acid reflux? This study proved that the treatment improved the contraction of muscles that separate the stomach from the esophagus. This is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). By improving the function of the LES, acid was prevented from backing up.

It is essential for you to understand that acupuncture does not treat symptoms, but it works by restoring the function of the body. Any dysfunction of the body is either the result of an excess or a deficiency. The beauty of acupuncture is it simply restores this balance. (If you are interested in learning more, I wrote a blog titled How Does Acupuncture Work that explains this scientifically.)

Acid reflux is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. When the delicate tissues of the esophagus are traumatized by repeated acid  exposure, cancer risk increases significantly. So instead of medication, look to acupuncture as a safe and effective alternative.