What Does Acupuncture Treat?
So what does acupuncture treat? Most acupuncture websites have long lists of medical conditions, illnesses and ailments which benefit from acupuncture. I could produce the same list here for you… headaches, irritable bowel, sinusitis, anxiety, menstrual pain, etc., etc., etc. But you can use Google as well as anyone. Let’s do something different here.
And to be truthful, these lists betray what acupuncture really does best. First and foremost, acupuncture (in the hands of a properly trained professional) treats you as everything that you are. You are one complete body-mind-spirit complex with a lived history, a present and a potential future. You are the sum total of everything you inherited and everything you have done with that inheritance (what, in Chinese Medicine, we call your ‘early heaven’ and ‘later heaven’ influences, respectively.)
We have a saying in Chinese Medicine. It goes like this…
Same diseases, different treatment
In essence, what it means is that, yes, we do treat ‘diseases’, but we treat much more than that. We speak of treating the ‘Root’ and ‘Branch’. The ‘Branch’ is metaphor for your symptom(s) (to be honest, usually the reason you’ve come for treatment). The ‘Root’ is metaphor for our understanding of the deeper or more fundamental underlying processes (physiological, structural, emotional) that have given rise to your symptom(s).
So two people could come to my clinic complaining of the same symptom, let’s say for example, migraine headaches. But there is no one ‘acupuncture recipe’ for migraines. These two people could receive totally different treatments because of the very individual imbalances that have given rise to migraines in each case. The great power of that approach is that if it succeeds, the migraines are not the only thing that improves, but so do many other symptoms related to the basic imbalances that are being treated.
I am not making false promises or claims here, but the really honest answer is that acupuncture has something to offer just about everyone suffering from every disease or symptom. Of course there are some symptoms that don’t respond all that well to acupuncture. For example, tinnitus is very difficult to treat. BUT (and this is important to understand), a person suffering from tinnitus does have a LOT to gain from acupuncture in the bigger sense, because tinnitus is symptomatic of a bigger problem with bigger ramifications than just ear ringing. The patient’s tinnitus may not improve, but their frequent urination, weak knees, low back pain, dizziness and menopausal symptoms probably will.
And of course, the patient has a role to play in this too. If you come to me for persistent insomnia and you are drinking 12 cups of coffee a day, it should be obvious that there is only so much I can do. A significant part of that problem is in your hands. Nevertheless, even in that case, we can be partners and some effective acupuncture may help you to gain a different perspective on your relationship to 12 cups of coffee a day.
Having said all this, I realise you may be curious and want to know why people go for acupuncture. Here are the reasons people came to my clinic last year…
Headaches – Sciatica – Insomnia – Neck Pain
Foot Pain – Infertility – TMJ – Sinusitis – Shoulder Pain
Hypertension – Autoimmune Disease – Fibroids
Hemorrhoids – Whiplash – Lactation Problems – Smoking Cessation
Allergies – Ear Infections – Hip Pain – Scoliosis – Rheumatoid Arthritis
Ovulation Pain – Diaphragm spasm – Risk of Miscarriage
Burping – Tinnitus – Amenorrhea – Ankle pain
Cough – Low Back pain – Mid Back Pain – Depression
Postpartum Dizziness – Anxiety – Endometriosis – PMS
Elbow Pain – Anger – Migraines – Foot Pain – Fatigue
Irritable Bowel – Gestational Nausea – Hearing Loss – Diabetes
Knee Pain – Constipation – Orchitis – Heel Pain – Pediatric Insomnia
Menopausal symptoms – Post Stroke Hemiplegia – Smoking Cessation
Golden Age Vitality – Fibromyalgia – Wrist Pain – Neuropathy
Toe Pain – Sacrum Pain – Menstrual Pain – Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Immune Dysfunction – Hypothyroidism – Lacrimation
Sweating Problems – Numbness in Limbs – Prostatitis
Did all of these people have all their symptoms go away? No. Certainly, the great majority of them experienced significant improvement. In the end, all you can do is give it a try, and usually in 3 or 4 treatments, you will know if its helping you. If you want to talk about your specific case, give me a call.
There is nothing like a good example to get my point across about treating the whole person. Imagine two patients, Jack and Jill. They both have exactly the same kind of low back pain, and have both had it for 8 months. Their doctors have diagnosed bulging disks at L4/L5 for both of them. They both have resultant sciatic pain going down the right leg to the foot. They are both 45 years old. But beyond that, they differ.
Jack is a recovering alcoholic. His father was an alcoholic. He is 25 pounds overweight. He gets migraine headaches. He has sinusitis. And he had bilateral inguinal hernia surgery 5 years ago.
Jill has given birth three times and had two miscarriages. She is diabetic. She had her appendix removed at age 25, her gall bladder removed at age 35 and a complete hysterectomy 4 years ago. Jill is divorced. She suffers from anxiety and has low blood pressure.
In ‘musculoskeletal’ terms and as far as their doctors and physiotherapists are concerned, the low back pain and sciatic pain Jack and Jill experience are identical and are treated identically. In my terms, the acupuncture treatments for the low back pain and sciatica that Jack and Jill each need for optimal results are COMPLETELY different. The points I choose, the strategies I use, the frequency of treatments. The course of treatments. Lifestyle advice. Its all different. If I take no account of their medical history and full story and treat them identically for their low back pain and sciatica complaints, I will get mediocre results. If I treat them each as the full package that they are, I will get optimal results. They will also experience the refreshing integrity of being treated that way.
In Jack’s case, he may also experience improvements in liver health, migraines, sinusitis, his sense of his structure, and his relationship to frustrations in his life. In Jill’s case, her blood sugars will probably become more stable, her anxiety will improve and she may ultimately overcome a fear that has blocked her ability to pursue a dream she has had for many years. In both cases, its about a LOT more than back pain!