Let me tell you about one of my lovely patients, a woman in her early 60s who I’ll refer to as “Cindy,” who injured her shoulder when her dog suddenly lunged away from her on a walk.

The MRI showed a “massive tear of the supraspinatus,” one of the rotator cuff muscles. Its tendon completely detached from the bone, and there was swelling in the shoulder joint. As you might imagine, this made lifting her arm nearly impossible and quite painful. After months of lack of use, the muscle tissue atrophied severely and fatty tissue infiltrated it.

What this meant for Cindy was she couldn’t raise her arm out to the side. She couldn’t put away dishes into kitchen cabinets or get her hand high enough to wash her hair. The pain radiated down to her fingers, and she would frequently wake up at night with pain. On bad days, she struggled to put on a coat.

With surgery months away at the earliest, we decided to see what a short course of acupuncture visits could do.

I began with a neuromuscular assessment of the upper body. In addition to the supraspinatus issue that the MRI indicated, I found a bunch of other stuff going on. The serratus anterior muscle, responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint wasn’t functioning properly; there were severe adhesions (“knots”) in the muscles that were picking up the slack for the injured rotator cuff (subscapularis, deltoid, levator scapula and upper trapezius). Treating these accessory muscles relieved the nerve impingement such that the pain no longer radiated into the fingers, hand, or forearm.

After two treatments in two weeks where I administered electro-acupuncture, Cindy was able to wash her hair with both hands and could lift her arms out to at least 150 degrees and cross them over her head. The various muscles that had tested weak were once again firing. I instructed her in home exercises to strengthen the muscle, which she’s doing and is beginning to re-build strength.

No surgery. No PT. Just 4 treatments with electro-acupuncture and manual work.

After 6 visits, she was able to reach across to get something out of the glove compartment of her car, put her dishes away in an overhead cabinet, and fasten her bra with much greater ease. We’re continuing to treat twice a week for another few weeks in order to continue to reduce inflammation, increase range of motion to enable muscular strength, and reduce pain levels as she starts physical therapy. She’s decided against the surgery, as she’s making so much progress.

Cool, right? While this story may be dramatic, it’s by no means extraordinary; electro-acupuncture is powerful medicine for restoring strength and functionality to even old areas of injury.

You may not have to live with that thing you’ve been living with.  To schedule your series (we’re booking for April) give us a call at 541 757-4868 or visit brodiewelch.com/clinic to learn more.

I LOVE that feeling of learning something that fundamentally changes my perception. I got a mega-dose of it at an advanced workshop on the treatment of lower body conditions with electro-acupuncture and motor points.

I’ve been treating knee pain and hip pain with great success for almost 20 years.

While I do some postural assessment, I’ll admit I never looked too hard at feet.

The first few hours of the workshop, we watched people stand and walk. We looked at the alignment of the ankles, because how we impact the ground as we move through gravity determines where the knees and hips will absorb stress. I learned how to see ankles differently, brushed up on my neuroanatomy, and absorbed a few new treatment protocols.

On my first day back with patients, I applied what I learned about feet and ankles to three different people who were in for knee, hip, and back issues.

The next day, one of them called me, ecstatic to share that it was the first day in literally years she didn’t have any pain in her knee or lower leg! It totally made spending my weekend on airplanes and in a conference room worth it.

Electroacupuncture (think TENS unit but with alligator clips attached to acupuncture needles instead of onto pads stuck to the skin) reduces inflammation, restores strength to muscles that aren’t doing their jobs, and stimulates the release of our bodies’ natural opioids to reduce pain.

It’s even been shown to stimulate the production or chondrocytes (the cells that make cartilage) — making it especially useful for things like osteoarthritis, knee pain, and spinal stenosis, in addition to muscle/ tendon/ fascia/ nerve pain.

Speaking of osteoarthritis and knees, the results of 10, count ’em TEN randomized, double-blind studies show that acupuncture can help with the pain and joint dysfunction caused by osteoarthritis. This is great news when you consider a recent 10-year observational study showing that NSAIDs, anti-inflammatory drugs, may make arthritis worse. Same with cortisone shots. Unfortunately, the news that acupuncture is a great alternative doesn’t get the same headlines.

If you’ve limited what you think your body is capable of because of what your X-ray or your MRI has shown, I encourage you to rethink that.

Don’t assume that because you’ve been given the label of “arthritis” or “degenerative disc disease” that there’s nothing to be done.

These things don’t have to hurt. Sure, some conditions require surgery. But if you haven’t done a series of acupuncture (two treatments a week for three weeks for pain issues), you may be missing out. Recent studies suggest that taking anti-inflammatory drugs or getting cortisone shots make arthritis inflammation worse and even hasten joint deterioration.

To schedule a series, visit the Clinic tab of the website or call our office.

May you learn something revelatory today!

 

If you’ve had acupuncture, you know that “just got off the table feeling,” usually some combination of calm, relaxed, light, and rebooted.

Aculand, as I call it, is a potent nervous system reboot, and a lovely place to visit. But does it last?

“John” had been dealing multiple kinds of arthritis, with pain in his hands, feet, neck, hips, knees, shoulders, mid- and lower back — for more than 10 years.

Pain disrupted his sleep.

It made him grumpy.

It curtailed his ability to make things with his hands, which he loved to do, and inclined him towards comfort-eating cookies, or buying things he didn’t need online.

After six acupuncture visits, a Chinese herbal formula and some dietary changes, John’s pain was dramatically reduced in some places, and gone entirely in others.

He was able to get back to his favorite crafty hobby, sleep through the night, and found he had a lot more patience for the people in his life. Both his weight and his credit card bill dropped as he wasn’t seeking dopamine in all the wrong places.

“I thought being irritable was just my personality. Turns out I was just like that from living with all that pain for so long. Now that it’s gone, I’m like a different person.

What are you living with that you’ve accepted as a given? What if you didn’t have to? I’m now scheduling acupuncture clients for January;  Visit the Clinic tab of the website to schedule your treatment series if you’re a Willamette Valley local.

Good news if you’re among the millions who suffer from anxiety: acupuncture can help. A of 20 randomized controlled trials showed that acupuncture can significantly decrease anxiety — no surprise, since it’s profoundly relaxing for the central nervous system. If you know someone who’s struggling, please encourage them to seek help.

Almost everyone I work with gets a breathing exercise (or several) because breathing is the fastest way to affect the nervous system. When someone is panicking and hyperventilating, the old breathing-into-a-paper-bag trick helps because the person is re-breathing the carbon dioxide-rich air that they’ve just exhaled.

Try this: inhale, and then breathe out all your air and hold your breath on empty. You’ll likely start to feel a little anxious, because the body knows it needs oxygen to breathe. But if we can get used to having higher levels of carbon dioxide circulating in our bodies, it’s easier to stay calm.

To increase your carbon dioxide tolerance –and thus your capacity for calm– try this practice: Inhale through the nose, filling up your low belly and chest. Breathe all the way out through your nose and hold empty as long as you can, up to 30 seconds. Repeat 8 times, once or twice a day.