Acupuncture is not mystical voodoo! There are scientific explanations as to why acupuncture works. While some aspects of acupuncture remain a mystery, (I am hopeful one day there will be as many studies involving acupuncture as there are for pharmaceuticals!) there are few things we know for sure and that have been studied and proven:
1. Acupuncture regulates the endocrine system: Hormones! Endorphins! Hooray!
Acupuncture stimulates the nerves in the brain and spinal cord (CNS). The area of the brain known as the hypothalamus controls the hormone secretion of the pituitary gland. When acupuncture points are stimulated, chemicals that make you feel good, such as opioids (natural pain reliever) or serotonin (appetite, sleep, mood regulator), are released and your body becomes homeostatic and happy!
2. Acupuncture increases blood Flow: Blood is our lifeline! Without it our organs can not function, our muscles atrophy, our lungs cease to breathe and we perish...Our bodies depend on the oxygen and nutrients carried by our blood via the circulatory system. When there is a constriction (arguably the cause of all disease) somewhere in our body, sometimes our brain is a little slow to react, doesn't recognize the problem or is having trouble getting the blood and nutrients to the constricted area. And that's when you call your plumber...I mean acupuncturist! Acupuncturists are basically fancy plumbers after all! We figure out where the blockage is located, remove it and get the blood flowing so you can heal faster!
3. Acupuncture helps generates new tissue: When the tissue is healing from an injury, your body goes into inflammation-mode to help regrow tissue. While this is an important part of healing process, it can also cause some adhesions and scar tissue build up especially if there is limited mobility. Acupuncture helps create a gentle mobilization of the surrounding tissue which can then help deliver fluids in and out of the growing tissue. This allows for faster and stronger tissue growth! Acupuncture can also break up old scar tissue from previous injuries or post-surgery.
4. Acupuncture can relax tight muscles: Our muscular system is responsible for moving us. When movement is painful or constricted usually one or more muscles are involved. Muscles can become tight and develop trigger points when there is a trauma, emotional stressor, bad posture, dehydration, or a repetitive strain injury. When a muscle is tight, it shortens, and the muscle can push on a nerve or strain another part of your body to push on a nerve or blood vessel. This can cause local as well as referral pain, numbness or tingling. Trigger point dry needling acupuncture is a specialized technique that is used to help the muscle relax by causing a "twitch response". This sudden contraction of the muscle allows the tight muscle to return to its proper resting position. This procedure should only be performed by a licensed acupuncturist.
You may have heard of the 'runner's high'-- that euphoric feeling runners get after a long run. Well, let me introduce you to the 'Acupuncture high'. After treatment, some patients leave my office feeling "super calm" with a "very relaxed feeling", feeling like "their head is in the clouds" or even "high". So, why do my patients feel this way after acupuncture?
When certain acupuncture points are stimulated your body releases opioid peptides, like endorphins. When you bisect the word endorphin you get endo - short for endogenous (originating within an organism) and orphin short for morphine. Endorphins play a role in your motivation, emotion, behavior, stress response, pain response, as well as controlling your food intake. Acupuncture has been proven to release endorphins which help to inhibit the sensation of pain and in some cases produce a feeling of euphoria similar to opioids.
So, without taking any medications, acupuncture can help your body produce its own natural morphine, allowing your body heal itself by reducing pain and stress.
Running season has arrived and the Broad Street Run is less than a month away! Although we don't like to think about it, even with the right shoes, stretches, and training, injuries can happen. If you are injured, you should consider acupuncture and trigger point dry needling as a non-invasive treatment that gives your body the tools it needs to heal itself! The following are some common injuries that can be treated by acupuncture:
...are the worst! Shin Splints can be described as pain in the front of the leg usually along your 'shin bone'. When I was a long distance runner I would get shin splints often, and couldn't run for at least a week, sometimes two. Shin splints are a very common repetitive strain injury that affects runners. Often times your Peroneus Longus, Peroneus Brevis, and/or Tibialis anterior are tight and have trigger points that are causing the pain. Acupuncture and trigger point dry needling can help release these tight muscles!
Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendinitis :
PF and AT are common complaints among runners. The pain can come on quickly, or slowly get worse and worse as your training schedule changes. Generally, the pain is felt in the heel, but can also travel up the back of the leg or down to the bottom of the foot. Many times this injury is caused by trigger points in the calf muscles. Acupuncture and trigger point dry needling can help release these tight knots and get you back to training in just a few treatments!
Low Back Pain:
The back is an extremely complex area of discs (vertebral bones), nerves, muscle and fascia (the thing that holds it all together). Low back pain (acute or chronic) can really put a wrench in your training. Acupuncture can help loosen the muscles in a stiff low back and bring blood flow to the area to promote healing.
Knee pain is another common injury among runners and can get worse when climbing up stairs or running up hills. Pain can be around the knee, behind the knee or under the knee cap. Acupuncture is extremely successful at treating knee pain and can often get you back to training in only a couple sessions!
IT Band Syndrome:
IT band syndrome is sometimes referred to as runners knee. This is an injury of the outer part of the leg and extends to the knee and/or the hip. It is often associated with sharp pain and/or snapping and popping. At rest, the pain is usually dull, but while running up hill it could be quite painful. Acupuncture can help relieve this pain.
This isn't a complete list of conditions associated with runners injuries. If you have any questions regarding an injury you have sustained while running please feel free to call 484-938-8778 or Email: Brittany@renewacupuncturecare.com
Acid reflux and its painful companion heartburn are on the rise as millions Americans say they experience acid reflux at least once a week. When acid reflux occurs more than once a week, your doctor may diagnosis you with GERD (gastroesophael reflux disease). While some causes of GERD are based on one’s lifestyle choices (eating a diet high in fat or acidic foods, overeating and emotional stress), other factors that can cause GERD include genetic abnormalities in the stomach and/or esophagus, or certain medications.
How does acid reflux occur?
After food enters your mouth you chew and then swallow. The food travels down your throat, into your esophagus, through the lower esophageal sphincter and then into your stomach where it mixes with acid and bile. When properly functioning, the lower esophageal sphincter only opens in one direction (into the stomach). Unfortunately, the body does not always function the way it should and sometimes acid and bile from the stomach can go up through the sphincter into the esophagus. This is known as acid reflux. Sometimes acid reflux is painless, other times it is not. The painful feeling of the acid in our esophagus is called heartburn.
How do I know if I have GERD?
Only your doctor can diagnosis you with GERD and if you are experiencing acid reflux and/or heartburn frequently you should go see him or her as soon as you can. Some symptoms of GERD include heartburn, chest pain, nausea after eating, feeling too full after meals, coughing, bitter taste in mouth, asthma, vomiting and regurgitation. Because of the frequency of the acid reflux, the lining of the esophagus can also become eroded and cancer of the esophagus can become a concern.
Treatment options: Western vs. Eastern
The western treatment of heartburn includes acid blockers and antacids such as Prilosec, Prevacid or Tums. These drugs are not cures and only mask the symptoms without addressing the cause. They can also cause unwanted side effects including abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and headaches. Symptoms can even become worse after discontinued use.
In Traditional Chinese medicine, acid reflux is related to a dysfunction in the stomach meridian. The stomach meridian begins around the eyes and travels downward through the heart and stomach and finishes at the second toe. When the stomach qi starts traveling upward, (as it does during acid reflux) there is a pathology in the stomach meridian. Acupuncture works to help direct stomach qi back downward and correct the pathology. Heartburn can also be related to the heart meridian. If the heart meridian is involved, the acid reflux will more likely be caused by stress or have an emotional component. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture do not have any negative side effects and can reduce your heartburn in just one treatment.
How else can I prevent/treat heartburn? Lifestyle Changes.
In the music industry, injuries commonly develop as the demands on musicians often exceed their limits. Unhealthy diet, inconsistent or inadequate sleep, and physical and emotional stressors are a constant reality for the touring musician. This hectic lifestyle doesn't allow the body adequate time to rest, recharge, and heal. Because the show must go on, pain killers, muscle relaxers, steroids and anti-anxiety medication are often taken to help dull the pain or ease the mind, but they are only a temporary fix. In the morning, the pain commences and the stress begins to set in.
Mental symptoms such as stress, anxiety and depression occur when there is an imbalance in the body. While taking medication can sometimes cover up these symptoms, the root of the imbalance remains and until treated becomes a never-ending cycle of self-medication, sleep deprivation, and fatigue. Masking these symptoms with medications can also cause unwanted side effects that can interfere with the creative process. Fatigue, changes in appetite/weight, and changes in sleep patterns are common unwanted side effects. Acupuncture works to harmonize the body and mind removing both the physical and mental effects of stress, anxiety and depression naturally. It helps a person change their reaction pattern to a stimulus that earlier brought on symptoms of anxiety or stress. Pain fighting and emotion balancing endorphins are also produced during acupuncture. The neurotransmitter serotonin, that is responsible for influencing a positive mood, is produced in larger quantities when a person is receiving acupuncture. After an acupuncture session people often feel energized, focused, and less stressed.
While stress and other emotional issues can cause physical symptoms, muscle aches, swelling, stiffness, and limited range of motion can also be caused by repetitive strain injuries. Because musicians are often repeating the same motions with their fingers, arms, hands etc, the muscles become over-worked and repetitive strain injuries commonly occur. Trigger points (tight knots in the fibers of the muscles) are often the culprit for the pain musicians experience during repetitive strain injuries. These muscle fibers become tightly wound and cause stress on the nerves and the joints. Acupuncture releases these trigger points and allows the muscles to stretch back to its normal size, relaxing the muscle and relieving the pain. For instance, a drummer is constantly practicing to master different strokes. Too much practice without enough rest or without proper technique and one might experience cramping, numbness, and/or pain in that region. This discomfort is most likely caused by trigger points in one or more of the forearm muscles (see below) due to repetitive strain. Trigger points can cause local pain as well as referral(non-local) pain patterns. Trigger points and the subsequent pain they cause can be eliminated with acupuncture treatment. To ensure the pain does not return, stretching techniques and postural changes (if needed) should also be added. Below are some common trigger points (marked X) and the referral pain patterns (in red).
Common wrist/arm pain trigger points - drummers, pianists, guitarists/bassists
Common elbow pain trigger points - drummers, pianists, guitarists/bassists
Shoulder/Upper back/Neck pain trigger points - guitarists/bassists, violinists, drummers, pianists, flutists
Common low back pain trigger points - drummers, guitarists, bassists
Just as some musicians enjoy a massage to relax before a show, acupuncture can reduce muscle tension while also releasing endorphins to lessen anxiety and focus the mind. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about how acupuncture can help you! We offer group and in-home rates.