“Oh, it’s just my shoulder. It’s been like that for years. Sure, it wakes me up at night sometimes, and I take Aleve or ibuprofen a few times a week, but I’m used to it. It’s no big deal.”

Sound familiar?

Maybe for you it’s your hip, lower back, neck, or knee.

Sure, you’ve adapted.

Like the humming of your refrigerator, it’s become the background noise of your life.

You tolerate the pain and try and downplay it, though that’s easier some days than others. You’ve resigned yourself to just having to live with it, like rainy weather.

But what if that Thing You’ve Been Living With, that comes-and-goes chronic problem you’ve gotten so used to, could be gone in a matter of weeks or months?

What if it’s not the weather, it’s that you’ve got a leaky roof – which means there’s something you can do to feel better?

With acupuncture and electro-acupuncture, I’ve helped patients resolve or drastically reduce:

  • Neck pain that had been going on for years, so debilitating that this 71-year-old would have no choice but to lie down, essentially ending the active part of her day hours early. She had just accepted that there was nothing she could do. Now it’s either gone completely, or “slightly annoying” if she’s been particularly active.
  • Shoulder pain from an old injury that kept a 64-year-old from sleeping through the night, and limited her range of motion, now 90% pain-free and able to reach everything in her kitchen
  • Hip pain and sciatica that prevented my 60-year old travel-loving patient from being able to fully explore new cities on foot; tune-up treatments keep him pain-free for about a month
  • The bum knee that dogged this older adult’s yoga practice for years fully resolved (since treating the tight hip he didn’t even know about!)
  • Ankle pain from a decades-old injury
  • Osteoarthritis pain in the neck, low back, knee, hip, etc., kept in check for countless patients through monthly acupuncture tune-ups, enabling these folks to do more and hurt less.
  • Having arthritis doesn’t mean you have to hurt. It will, however, take maintenance. electro-acupuncture around the shoulder blade

Not only does acupuncture reduce inflammation, it prompts the release of chemicals that speed healing to injured tissue and changes the way pain signals are perceived by the brain. 

Being in pain taxes your energy, attention, and patience – and drugs come with their own risks of serious side-effects.

If your friend were living with this issue day in and day out for years, wouldn’t you want them to get some help? 

You deserve that care as well. Stop minimizing your pain, even if it could be worse. You’ve put up with it for long enough.

I would love to help you dial back the frequency and intensity of that thing you live with. Give us a call at 541 757-4868 and we’ll set you up with a treatment series or a tune-up. Maybe you can’t stop the rain, but you can patch your leaky roof and stay dry.

Between treatments, I like to equip my patients with things they can do at home to speed their healing process: therapeutic exercises, stretches, self-massage techniques, and a topical pain-reliever they can apply to the part that hurts.

I’ve sold a lot of these topical herbal products over the years, but the far-and-away patient favorite — one I can barely keep in stock — is Evil Bone Water.

What’s it for?

Evil Bone Water helps painful muscles, tendons, and joints: sprains, muscle strains, bruises, recent injuries, soreness after activities, arthritis, muscle cramps, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis, plantar fasciitis, low back pain, – pretty much any musculoskeletal condition where the skin isn’t broken.

It can also take the itch out of bug bites and poison oak.

What’s with the sinister name?

Evil Bone Water is based on a 500-year old Chinese herbal recipe for Zheng Gu Shui, which translates as “righteous bone water,” or “bone-setting liquid” which was developed to heal fractures and other injuries accrued during martial arts practice. The formula would “make right” what was injured, or “rectify evil” affecting the bones. The name Evil Bone Water is an homage to this traditional, time-tested formula, and a bit of an inside joke of for Chinese herbal medicine practitioners.

Is it like Tiger Balm? Or that stuff in the red bottle? 

Kind of, in that it provides a similar immediately warming-yet-cooling feeling, but is made from much higher quality herbs — and without the nasty petroleum.

I used to carry the most common brand of Zheng Gu Shui, the liquid in the red box on every Chinese Medicine practitioner’s shelf. It helped some, but was nothing I would swear by, and would only half-heartedly recommend to patients. That mass-market formulation leaves out all but seven of the original formula’s 26 ingredients in order to make a cheaper product. Evil Bone Water is made from the original formula and doesn’t scrimp on the good stuff — and the difference is immediately apparent.

Why do people love it so much?

Because it works really well. Like, so well that patients give it away to friends who come over to visit (“You’ve got to try this stuff!”) and then have to come back the next day and replace their supply.

It’s small-batch, craft-brewed medicine. Its herbal ingredients are potent, and sustainably and ethically sourced. Evil Bone Water contains no animal products and is non-GMO, gluten-free, cruelty-free, pesticide-free, and contaminant free.

Evil Bone Water in 3.4 oz amber bottle.

How do I use it?
Apply Evil Bone Water topically over the area that hurts.  Rub it in with a cotton ball, spray it on, or use it as a compress. Because it’s alcohol-based, it evaporates quickly, so rubbing in really well and applying several layers or keeping it under gauze for a half hour greatly increases absorption.

What does it do?  

The all-natural camphor and menthol provide an immediate warming-cooling tingly sensation that provides immediate pain relief. Other herbs in the formula are “Blood movers” according to traditional Chinese Medicine used to invigorate the flow of blood to speed healing and decrease inflammation, pain, and swelling.

Where can I get it?

If you live in the Willamette Valley, you can get some at my clinic, Life in Balance Acupuncture, 534 NW 4th Street — just call first to make sure we’re open. And if you live far away, you can order yours from our friends at Valley Health Clinic, and be sure to use discount code WELCH to get 15% off your order (and they’ll send me a little cash as well).

 

*These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA; the original formula has, however been used by millions for half a millenneum, so maybe that speaks for itself?

I’ve been talking a lot about electro-acupuncture and how it’s amazing to take down inflammation, get muscles that aren’t firing to do their job, and release the body’s natural opioids to relieve pain. But a lot of people can’t quite picture what it’s like.

My daughter Cassidy was visiting from grad school last week with her boyfriend Blake, so we combined an office tour with a demo photo shoot.*

Here’s how it works:

First, I do an assessment. I position the patient’s limb and ask them to press into my hand while I resist their pressure.

This helps me assess which muscles are inhibited or weak — usually due to repetitive use or injury.

In an area of pain, you can bet some muscles aren’t working properly. Resistance testing helps me assess which ones, so we can turn them back on using acupuncture or electro-acupuncture.

Here are some action shots of me assessing hip flexion and abduction, as well as her anterior deltoid:

After the assessment, we begin treatment. I insert needles at specific points in the affected muscles known as motor points, where a motor neuron connects with a muscle to create movement, and where the muscle will contract with a minimal amount of external stimulation.

Next, I often use a device that applies electro-stimulation to the end of the needle at a frequency of 10 Hz to cause the muscle to contract.

We aim for a strong but comfortable level of stimulus for just 8-12 seconds a couple of times.

Often, this is enough to get the muscle to do its job. We’ll retest and a previously inhibited muscle will test strong. This was the case with Cassidy.

Boom.

Here’s what that looks like:

upper trapezius motor point

I then applied electro-acupuncture to motor points by attaching alligator clips to the acupuncture needles and running a current through them. The sensation is similar to that of a TENS unit — a strong but comfortable pulsing sensation. I let that run for about 15 minutes.

 

See how relaxed she looks? 

Meanwhile, Cassidy’s boyfriend, Blake, who had been taking the photos, mentioned that he hadn’t been able to go running with with Cassidy due to shin splints. I gave him a short 4-needle treatment so could get a feel for what acupuncture is like.

   

Results: The day after the treatment, Cass and Blake went running together. Blake had no pain in his shins, and Cassidy reported that she felt “springier,” and the lower limb that received treatment felt “like it’s better at doing what it’s supposed to do.” So even though this was just a one-off “for demonstration purposes” treatment session, both 24-year-old athletes noticed immediate, marked improvement. And hopefully you got a better sense of what getting an electro-acupuncture treatment might be like.

This kind of treatment can be great for:

  • osteoarthritis
  • chronic or acute pain 
  • restricted range of motion anywhere
  • tight fascia or tight bands, adhesions, or “knots” due to injury or repetitive strain
  • wanting to feel your best doing the things you love
  • post-surgery recovery
  • old injuries that have never quite healed
  • preventing wear-and-tear on your joints resulting from compensation patterns

 

To set up your treatment series (usually 2x/ week for 3 weeks, at which point we re-evaluate), give us a call at (541) 757-4868.

(*My clinic is a health care setting where masks are required, but since we came in off-hours and have been staying in the same house for a week, we opted to show our faces.)

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.