Q: I have chronic pain from a dislocated shoulder. I have done
everything from minor surgery to clean out debris to steroid injections. Can
acupuncture help me with the pain?
Viveka S. Rucker, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., Dipl. C.H. writes - Yes, it is very
likely that acupuncture can help your shoulder pain. Pain relief is one of the
most widely utilized functions of acupuncture in our western culture, largely
due to published studies showing that acupuncture causes the release of
endorphins, the body’s own natural pain killers. Specifically, acupuncture has
been very helpful for both acute and chronic shoulder pain.
According to Chinese Medicine, acupuncture would help
relieve pain by moving Qi (energy) and blood through meridians (energy pathways)
that serve the shoulder, as pain is caused by blockage, or a lack of nourishment
to the painful area. The pathogenic blockage is dispelled, and/or the deficiency
is supplemented to relieve pain. Generally, if there is too much Qi stuck in one
area, there is not enough in another area, and it is important to identify what
is causing this imbalance. The causes may or may not be rooted solely in the
shoulder. In Chinese medical theory, pain in the shoulder can, in some cases, be
caused or aggravated by problems elsewhere in the body. Resolving those problems
may reduce pain the shoulder as well.
Shoulder dislocation is usually caused by some kind of
trauma, and acute pain related to trauma is often resolved relatively quickly
with acupuncture, as the body is restored to its normal pre-trauma balance.
Acupuncture can also help pain from chronic shoulder dislocation, although
consistent pain relief will generally require more treatment.
From a western standpoint you are dealing with weakness in
the tendons and joint capsule from being over-stretched, and adhesions that have
developed in the joint. Adhesions, while painful and undesirable, are the body’s
attempt to make the area strong again.
From a Chinese medicine standpoint, you are dealing with
pain due to stagnation associated with one or a combination of the following:
wind, cold, damp, heat, blood or phlegm. Each of these Chinese medical terms
derived from nature describe a specific type of sensation, quality, and set of
symptoms. Cold (which contracts), and damp (which causes a sensation of
heaviness) are most commonly predominant. Your acupuncturist will differentiate
how much or how little of each component is involved in your presentation in
order to create a treatment protocol specialized for your condition.
There may also be a deficiency component (something that
needs to be strengthened) in your overall health profile. Chronic pain or
weakness often suggests other lifestyle factors or health conditions present in
the overall picture that have left the body vulnerable to repeated damage, and
prevented the body from healing properly or completely. The body then
accommodates or adapts to this dysfunction, creating other imbalances that need
to be unraveled. An acupuncturist seeks out the causes of imbalance and treats
not just the local area, but the whole body in order to balance the flow of Qi,
relieve pain and restore function.
Acupuncture points aimed at resolving your particular
pattern of disharmony would be used along with points on the meridians that flow
through the painful area of the shoulder itself, to clear the stagnation that is
causing pain. In this way the pain can be addressed in a comprehensive and
individualized way that both relieves pain, and supports the body in healing
Western medicine holds that once over-stretched, neither
the tendon nor joint capsule can shrink back to normal size again to hold the
humerus in place. Whether this is true in all cases or not is uncertain,
however, many individuals with ‘permanent’ structural conditions experience pain
relief and healing from acupuncture, whether or not their condition is ever
completely cured in a western sense.
Along with acupuncture, Chinese herbs that strengthen
tendons, assist in healing and relieve pain may be very helpful. Gentle Qi Gong
exercises to practice in between acupuncture treatments can also help strengthen
the area and relieve pain.
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a number of modalities
to help your condition.
Q: Can Chinese Medicine help my kids with frequent colds?
childhood diseases are cold, flu, ear infection, sinus infection, bronchitis,
allergy, asthma, and eczema. Chinese medicine can be very beneficial for your
children. It strengthens and fortifies the immune system. This can decrease the
severity and occurrence of the illness. Some children need acupuncture
treatments and they tend to do well with the treatment. Powder, pill and
tincture are usually prescribed for children. Herb tea is prescribed in
absolutely necessary situations. Consult your doctor for more information.