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Home > Newsletters > February 2004 >

Ask the Doctor

Q: Should you ever experience pain after a treatment?

A: Bret Moldenhauer D.Ac, L.Ac writes: The Eskimo people have about seven different words to describe the many formations of snow in their environment. Traditional Chinese Medicine shares this phenomenon in regards to the concept of pain. It is important to realize that pain is a stimulus. Pain can be a symptom as well as a disease. It can be a measure of recovery, or a sign of complications. One thing is very clear when it comes to the TCM model of pain: Qi and its movement cannot be separate from the concept of pain. Qi is the basic energy that pervades all forms of life, animate and inanimate. The nature of Qi is one of constant movement. When this movement is blocked or restrained disease can arise. The job of an acupuncturist is to maintain and guide the flow of Qi through your body. There is a well know theory in TCM that states, “Where there is blockage there is pain. Remove the blockage, remove the pain.”

During the needling process the goal is to stimulate the movement of Qi in the body. When needling one may feel numbness, soreness, aches, distention, electric, flowing, hot, cold or a combination. These sensations are all manifestations to the western mind as different types of pain. In TCM these different sensations give us clues to what the body is telling us. Acupuncture therapy takes advantage of this feedback by allowing the brain to process the input. Letting the brain recognize these sensations is actually part of the healing process; some would say the treatment would be incomplete without them.

Because the nature of acupuncture is to move, tonify or sedate energies it is not uncommon to feel many of the sensations well after the treatment -- in some cases after several days. Some patients have reported feeling aches along the surface of their legs or down their back a day or two after a treatment. These are sensations of energy moving well after the activation process was initiated. Pain that would not be a part of this process would be any bruising occurred from broken blood vessels during the treatment, or sharp searing burning pain caused by nerve damage.

In some cases needling deep into certain trigger points can cause some soreness for the day. It is important to drink plenty of water after a treatment due to the fact that many toxic elements can be released into the body for elimination. These toxins can be a source of discomfort most commonly known as the healing crisis. This is a necessary step in cleansing the body and can be a sign of a healthy transition. Talk with your acupuncturist about pain and your concept of pain. He or she will be able to help you see pain and its many faces in a more complete light. Pain is not just something to be frightened about or avoided but used as a tool to help guide your course of treatment and track your success.


Q: Is acupuncture safe for pregnant women? I am at 13 weeks.

A: Drew Nesbitt BA, DTCM writes: Since esophageal spasm can be a difficult condition to diagnose, I can only assume that you have already contacted your physician and have had the appropriate tests to rule out any serious problems. That being said, since you are a potential first time acupuncture patient, I will give you a brief idea of what happens during a typical acupuncture treatment.

As TCM practitioners, we would first ask a number of questions about your current and past health history. We would also ask questions that are directly related to the problem area. Typical questions may be: "Do temperatures of food affect your condition? What times of the day do the spasms usually happen? Are there any foods that exacerbate/help your condition? Do you have a history of acid reflux or other digestive related disorders?" Some of these questions may seem odd but they give the trained TCM practitioner much needed information about you and the status of your condition. Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, auricular acupuncture and other TCM modalities are all possibilities to use as treatment. Your TCM practitioner may also have dietary advice and you may be asked to avoid certain types of food during the course of your healing (some foods may trigger the spasms)

Someone who suffers chronically like yourself should always remember that your condition will most likely not be resolved in one or two treatments. The longer a condition has been around, the longer it may take to see positive results. On the bright side, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) both consider esophageal spasms as a treatable condition with acupuncture. So have patience and trust your acupuncturist. In short, with the help of a qualified TCM practitioner, you should be able to find a substantial amount of relief from the spasms and pain. Once the pain is reduced, you can then carefully minimize the amount of pain medication that you have been taking, thereby reducing any chances of addiction.


Q: I've never had acupuncture done before, but I'm suffering from chronic debilitating esophageal spasms, for which I take pain medications. I am scared of continuing my medication because of how addictive they can be. Can acupuncture help relieve the massive pain that I deal with just about every day?

A:

Drew Nesbitt BA, DTCM writes: Since esophageal spasm can be a difficult condition to diagnose, I can only assume that you have already contacted your physician and have had the appropriate tests to rule out any serious problems. That being said, since you are a potential first time acupuncture patient, I will give you a brief idea of what happens during a typical acupuncture treatment.

As TCM practitioners, we would first ask a number of questions about your current and past health history. We would also ask questions that are directly related to the problem area. Typical questions may be: "Do temperatures of food affect your condition? What times of the day do the spasms usually happen? Are there any foods that exacerbate/help your condition? Do you have a history of acid reflux or other digestive related disorders?" Some of these questions may seem odd but they give the trained TCM practitioner much needed information about you and the status of your condition. Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, auricular acupuncture and other TCM modalities are all possibilities to use as treatment. Your TCM practitioner may also have dietary advice and you may be asked to avoid certain types of food during the course of your healing (some foods may trigger the spasms)

Someone who suffers chronically like yourself should always remember that your condition will most likely not be resolved in one or two treatments. The longer a condition has been around, the longer it may take to see positive results. On the bright side, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) both consider esophageal spasms as a treatable condition with acupuncture. So have patience and trust your acupuncturist. In short, with the help of a qualified TCM practitioner, you should be able to find a substantial amount of relief from the spasms and pain. Once the pain is reduced, you can then carefully minimize the amount of pain medication that you have been taking, thereby reducing any chances of addiction.


About our Doctor:

Bret Moldenhauer, D.Ac, L.Ac., is the founder of the Institute for Acupuncture and Wellness located in the Erlanger hospital’s Chattanooga Lifestyle Center. Mr. Moldenhauer was the first Acupuncture physician in the state of Tennessee to hold hospital privileges. Mr. Moldenhauer is a member of the Tennessee Acupuncture Council and chairs the committee on CEUs for the council. He is on the board of the Global Group for the exchange, research and development of integrative medical studies with the Beijing University of Medicine, PRC and the University of Tennessee Medical program, Chattanooga. Mr. Moldenhauer has been clinically and classically trained in China and the U.S. Email: drbret@hotmail.com.

Jade Pierce is a licensed acupuncturist, doula (birth assistant) and herbalist (western and Chinese). She has a Master's degree in acupuncture from TAI-Sophia in Columbia, MD and has been in private practice for 5 years. She is an instructor of Oriental bodywork at the
Body Therapy Institute, in Siler City, NC, as well as QiGong and other natural health classes. Jade has recently moved to Celo, NC where she is starting a new practice as well as seeing clients in the Chapel Hill and Charlotte areas. Jade can be reached at (828)284-3083 or dreamdance@juno.com.

Drew Nesbitt graduated from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario with an honours BA in Health Studies concentrating on anatomy and physiology, nutrition, sports injuries and health promotion in 2000. Nesbitt went on to complete the four-year full-time Doctoral Diploma program from the Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine (www.tstcm.com) with a strong emphasis on pain management and sports injuries. Nesbitt currently co-owns an integrated style healthcare clinic in Toronto called Balance Integrated Healthcare.

This Month's Articles

February 2004
Volume 2, Number 2

Happy Chinese New Year of the Monkey

A Qin Bowei Anthology and Analysis of Liver Qi: A Book Review

Help for Women with Fibroids

Recent Research

Ask The Doctor

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