I recently experience an extremely effective acupuncture for shoulder pain. I want to share how acupuncture works and what TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) is; why it is not mainstream (but should be), and what ailments this can treat effectively.
My personal TCM experience
My left shoulder had been aching for 9 months. It began after several months of swimming a half mile, 2 mornings per week. Rather than take pain reliever medicine daily (Ibuprofen, for example), I gave up swimming and began to move my shoulder with great care. It hurt putting on a shirt, reaching across my other shoulder, and sleeping on the left side. Push-ups and pull-ups worsened it too. I could not understand why there was no improvement after several months of restringing. Not even my trusty percussion massager by HoMedics was healing making healing difference.
Finally I found myself in the office of an experienced doctor of traditional Chinese medicine here in the San Diego area. She felt my pulse and told me I have back stiffness. I admitted to her that she was right. “How did you know that,” I asked. “I can feel it in your pulse,” she said. Quickly proceeded to pop in a few acupuncture needles in my hands, arms, and forehead. Then she asked, “how does your shoulder feel now?”
To my amazement, it felt suddenly much less painful and I could reach across my other shoulder without pain or limitation—immediately! That was 10 days ago and it still feels great—only about 20% of pain and no stiffness remaining. How did she do that?
To add to my experience, my collegiate soccer player son recently suffered for 5 months with a piriformis/sciatica condition. He laid off playing and training for 2 months and slowly went to many physical therapy appointments which proved to be worthless. With acupuncture he immediately felt improvement and is progressing to healing. Moreover, his teammate has struggled with Achilles tendonitis for many months and just one acupuncture treatment gave him 100% symptom resolution. Can’t argue with results, right?
I’ll do my best here to explain how acupuncture works, more about traditional Chinese medicine, and which conditions it treats best.
How acupuncture works
From the perspective of a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor, our human body is connected to the Universe and the energies of it. In particular, Qi (pronounced, “Chee”) is the vital energy that flows through your body along specific channels or Meridians. Therefore, this subtle electric-like energy maintains and performs multiple functions to maintain your health. This concept seems to be true. How else could my shoulder be suddenly so improved? idians? I guess you could try to call it placebo effect? I don’t believe that.
More than acupuncture
There’s more to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) than acupuncture. TCM comes from the ancient philosophy of Taoism, dating back more than 2,500 years. It encompasses several treatment methods. There’s acupuncture, moxibustion (heating up acupuncture points with burning herbs), herbal medicine using Chinese herbs, Chinese therapeutic massage (tui na), and specific dietary recommendations. Also, tai chi or chi gong (specific movements, postures, coordinated breathing, and mental focus) are used to maintain optimum health.
An estimated 10,000 TCM practitioners in the U.S. serve approximately 3 million patients annually. However, it is still not covered on most insurances yet. One possible reason for this is due to the small quantity and poor quality of TCM effectiveness research studies. I believe the success of TCM has more to do with the experience of the practitioner than the science behind it.
Conditions best treated by TCM
Our National Institute of Health’s NCCIH (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) recommends not to use TCM to replace or postpone effective mainstream medicine for your medical problem. I disagree in cases where mainstream medicine is not effective. Case in point: my shoulder pains.
Here is what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treats best:
· Musculoskeletal and nerve pain
· Inflammatory Bowel Disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease)
· Insomnia, stress and depression
One experienced acupuncturist writes, “After graduating from a four-year, full-time program in New York City, I began practicing in Manhattan focusing on treating infertility and pain. I had a 99% success rate treating infertility in women under 40 using herbs and acupuncture. In my almost 15 years of practice, I have seen and treated pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia the most.”
A close family member just recently struggled with IVF failures, had her first successful pregnancy naturally after completing a 9-month acupuncture course of therapy. Go figure!
Now you have another way to reverse disease without drugs or surgery.
To reversing disease and feeling good,
Michael Cutler, M.D.