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By Candace McNaughton, ND

I am not an alarmist. But this is alarming. Through a subtle messaging campaign, the prescription of opiate medications has increased fourfold in the last ten years. Drug companies like the makers of OxyContin pay groups like the American Pain Foundation much of their annual income. The messaging came from the drug manufacturers through position statements, clinical guidelines, books, and seminars at conferences. Opiates are no longer just being used for severe post-surgical pain or pain associated with cancer or its treatment. They’re being prescribed for chronic pain issues like headaches, low back pain, and fibromyalgia. The gist of the message? Opiates aren’t addictive if used as prescribed, and there’s essentially no limit on dose. So prescribe away.

Except they are addictive. They cause tolerance (needing more to have the same effect) and addiction (going through withdrawal symptoms if you stop them suddenly). I see patients like this in my practice every day. Mothers who tearfully say they can’t take care of their kids while on Oxycodone. Construction workers who can’t work because they can’t drive, let alone operate machinery on the job while on these meds. I see kids who are still in school saying they were given no treatment options other than an opiate script and now they’re still in pain and falling asleep in school and scared of addiction. (more…)

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By Lindsey Lawson MS EAMP, Acupuncturist

Auto accidents can be painful both physically and emotionally. Having been in several myself, I know! It can be overwhelming. At Glow, we have years of expertise treating car accident cases. Through a custom blend of Massage, Acupuncture, and Chiropractic, we can ease the effects of stress and trauma on your nervous system, as well as treat your whiplash, headaches, neck or back pain or other physical symptoms. We guide you through the process from the first exam and referral to the last assessment.

Common injuries –Car accidents frequently result in the following conditions:

  • Whiplash
  • Neck pain (cervical sprain strain)
  • Low back pain ( lumbar sprain strain)
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Wrist or ankle pain
  • Other complaints include anxiety, sleeplessness, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Phases of Recovery

Our treatments are always tailored for you and may vary at different phases of your recovery. Initially, you will be dealing with much of the shock and trauma of the motor vehicle accident (MVA). With 10 years of experience doing acupuncture, I’ve seen it a thousand times.You may not even feel any pain. I find acupuncture to work wonderfully RIGHT away after your accident. While other treatments might cause a flare up at this stage, acupuncture will stop pain and begin the healing process immediately.

At Glow we can ease the tension and get your body out of the “fight or flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system. During this first stage you may also experience swelling, headaches or sleeplessness. The treatments will begin to ease the inflammation causing these problems and prevent the formation of scar tissue which can be difficult to address later. We will also assess and take steps to improve your range of motion and alignment. As your treatment progresses we will work to further address your specific musculoskeletal injuries and adhesions like whiplash, neck or back pain.

We’ve found that the combination of services we offer provides immediate relief and longstanding results.  Every case is different and every treatment protocol is individualized. Through acupuncture, massage and chiropractic, your body will be realigned, scar tissue formation will be less and inflammation reduced.

Goals of treatment

  • Assess the nature and extent of the injuries
  • Reduce the effects of trauma on the nervous system
  • Reduce swelling and pain
  • Increase range of motion
  • Decrease scar tissue formation and resolve adhesions

Navigating the system

Besides the physical and emotional stress post auto accident, there’s the stress of dealing with the insurance companies, car repairs, etc. We take care of the medical side of things and have extensive experience with insurance and billing.  To book an appointment, please call our office at 206 568 7545. We offer treatments 7 days a week as well as mornings and evenings. Not sure what you need? We can help get the right treatment for you. Ask to speak with Lindsey for a free phone consult.

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Decoding an Ancient Therapy

High-Tech Tools Show How Acupuncture Works in Treating Arthritis, Back Pain, Other Ills

  • By MELINDA BECK

Acupuncture has long baffled medical experts and no wonder: It holds that an invisible life force called qi (pronounced chee) travels up and down the body in 14 meridians. Illness and pain are due to blockages and imbalances in qi. Inserting thin needles into the body at precise points can unblock the meridians, practitioners believe, and treat everything from arthritis and asthma to anxiety, acne and infertility.

WSJ’s health columnist Melinda Beck tests out acupuncture as an alternative means to reduce her neck and back pain.

Does It Work?

While scientists say further research is essential, some studies have provided evidence of acupuncture’s effects.

  • Arthritis of the Knee: Acupuncture significantly reduced pain and restored function, according to a 2004 government study.
  • Headaches: Two 2009 reviews found that acupuncture cut both tension and migraine headaches.
  • Lower Back Pain: Acupuncture eased it in a big study last year, but so did a sham treatment where needles didn’t penetrate the skin.
  • Cancer: Has proven effective in reducing nausea and fatigue caused by chemotherapy.
  • Infertility: Improves the odds of pregnancy for women undergoing in-vitro fertilization, according to a 2008 review of seven clinical trials.
  • Addiction: Often used to help quit smoking, drinking, drug use and overeating, but there is no conclusive evidence that it works.

 

After decades of cynicism, Western medical experts are using high-tech tools to unravel the ancient mysteries of how acupuncture works. WSJ’s Health columnist Melinda Beck joins Simon Constable on the News Hub to discuss.

As fanciful as that seems, acupuncture does have real effects on the human body, which scientists are documenting using high-tech tools. Neuroimaging studies show that it seems to calm areas of the brain that register pain and activate those involved in rest and recuperation. Doppler ultrasound shows that acupuncture increases blood flow in treated areas. Thermal imaging shows that it can make inflammation subside.

Scientists are also finding parallels between the ancient concepts and modern anatomy. Many of the 365 acupuncture points correspond to nerve bundles or muscle trigger points. Several meridians track major arteries and nerves. “If people have a heart attack, the pain will radiate up across the chest and down the left arm. That’s where the heart meridian goes,” says Peter Dorsher, a specialist in pain management and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. “Gallbladder pain will radiate to the right upper shoulder, just where the gallbladder meridian goes.”

Many medical experts remain deeply skeptical about acupuncture, of course, and studies of its effectiveness have been mixed. “Something measurable is happening when you stick a needle into a patient—that doesn’t impress me at all,” says Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter in England and co-author of the book, “Trick or Treatment.” Acupuncture “clearly has a very strong placebo effect. Whether it does anything else, the jury is still out.”

Even so, the use of acupuncture continues to spread—often alongside conventional medicine. U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army doctors are using acupuncture to treat musculoskeletal problems, pain and stress in stateside hospitals and combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Delegations from Acupuncturists Without Borders are holding communal ear-needling sessions to reduce stress among earthquake victims in Haiti. Major medical centers—from M.D. Anderson in Houston to Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York—use acupuncture to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy.

In a 2007 survey, 3.2 million Americans had undergone acupuncture in the past year—up from 2.1 million in 2001, according to the government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The most common uses are for chronic pain conditions like arthritis, lower back pain and headaches, as well as fatigue, anxiety and digestive problems, often when conventional medicine fails. At about $50 per session, it’s relatively inexpensive and covered by some insurers.It is also generally safe. About 10% of patients experience some bleeding at the needle sites, although in very rare cases, fatalities have occurred due to infections or injury to vital organs, mostly due to inexperienced practitioners.

Most states require that acupuncturists be licensed, and the Food and Drug Administration requires that needles be new and sterile.

Diagnoses are complicated. An acupuncturist will examine a patient’s tongue and take three different pulses on each wrist, as well as asking questions about digestion, sleep and other habits, before determining which meridians may be blocked and where to place the needles. The 14 meridians are thought to be based on the rivers of China, and the 365 points may represent the days of the year. “Invaders” such as wind, cold, heat, dampness, dryness factor into illness, so can five phases known as fire, earth, metal, water and wood.

Using Acupuncture to Treat Stress

“It’s not like there’s a Merck Manual for acupuncture,” says Joseph M. Helms, who has trained some 4,000 physicians in acupuncture at his institute in Berkeley, Calif. “Every case is evaluated on an individual basis, based on the presentation of the patient and the knowledge of the acupuncturist.”

Dr. Helms notes that Western doctors also examine a patient’s tongue for signs of illness. As for qi, he says, while the word doesn’t exist in Western medicine, there are similar concepts. “We’ll say, ‘A 27-year-old female appears moribund; she doesn’t respond to stimuli. Or an 85-year old woman is exhibiting a vacant stare.’ We’re talking about the same energy and vitality, we’re just not making it a unique category that we quantify.”

Studies in the early 1980s found that acupuncture works in part by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, much like vigorous exercise does. Now, a growing body of research suggests that it may have several mechanisms of action. Those include stimulating blood flow and tissue repair at the needle sites and sending nerve signals to the brain that regulate the perception of pain and reboot the autonomic nervous system, which governs unconscious functions such as heart beat, respiration and digestion, according to Alejandro Elorriaga, director of the medical acupuncture program at McMaster University in Ontario, which teaches a contemporary version to physicians.

[healthcolJ] Vitaly NapadowA specialized MRI scan shows the effects of acupuncture. The top two images show the brain of a healthy subject. In the middle two images, a patient with carpal tunnel syndrome registers pain (indicated by red and yellow). The bottom images show the calming effect (indicated by blue) in the brain after acupuncture.

“You can think Western, you can think Eastern. As long as your needle goes to the nerve, you will get some effect,” Dr. Elorriaga says.

What’s more, an odd phenomenon occurs when acupuncture needles are inserted into the body and rotated: Connective tissue wraps around them like spaghetti around a fork, according to ultrasound studies at the University of Vermont. Helene Langevin, research associate professor of neurology, says this action stretches cells in the connective tissue much like massage and yoga do, and may act like acupuncture meridians to send signals throughout the body. “That’s what we’re hoping to study next,” she says.

“ My former spouse had shingles. Doctors told her that the terrible pain would probably last 2 or 3 years. She got acupuncture treatments, plus some Chinese herbs, and the pain was totally gone with 6 weeks.:

—Alan Agardi

Meanwhile, neuroimaging studies at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have shown that acupuncture affects a network of systems in the brain, including decreasing activity in the limbic system, the emotional part of the brain, and activating it in the parts of the brain that typically light up when the brain is at rest.

Other studies at the Martinos Center have shown that patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful compression of nerves in the wrist, have heightened activity in parts of the brain that regulate sensation and fear, but after acupuncture, their brain patterns more closely resemble those of healthy subjects. Brain scans of patients with fibromyalgia show that both acupuncture and sham acupuncture (using real needles on random points in the body) cause the release of endorphins. But real acupuncture also increased the number of receptors for pain-reducing neurotransmitters, bringing patients even more relief.

The fact that many patients get some relief and register some brain changes from fake acupuncture has caused controversy in designing clinical trials. Some critics say that proves that what patients think of as benefit from acupuncture is mainly the placebo effect. Acupuncture proponents counter that placebos that too closely mimic the treatment experience may have a real benefit.

“I don’t see any disconnect between how acupuncture works and how a placebo works,” says radiologist Vitaly Napadow at the Martinos center. “The body knows how to heal itself. That’s what a placebo does, too.”

Write to Melinda Beck at HealthJournal@wsj.com

 

 

 

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Hi there,

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve entered Mommyhood and thus have a few stolen moments to write while little Eli sleeps. Be on the lookout for fertility, nursing, postpartum and baby related info to come as these are one of my specialties, as well as my reality now.

Derek and I have collaborated on this post. He’s getting is Doctorate in Chinese Medicine with a focus on Oncology and pain management at Bastyr. The program focuses on research and he’s got some great studies to share.

Headaches are one of the things we see most commonly and treat most effectively as acupuncturists.  This particular randomized trail compares true acupuncture with a control for chronic headache. The controls include  sham acupuncture, medication therapy, and other nonpharmacological treatments. Types of headaches included migraine, tension type headache or both. The conclusion is that needling acupuncture is superior to sham acupuncture and medication therapy in improving headache intensity, frequency, and response rate.

Read full headache study here

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