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.
Here’s what that looks like:
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:
- 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.
Grab my free ebook: 5 Biohacks to Reduce Stress.