This alligator in Sao Paulo, Brazil is getting regular acupuncture for scoliosis related back pain and the veterinarian in charge of his treatment reports that acupuncture has been a huge success. How cool is that?
I love positive reports about animal acupuncture because people who try to debunk acupuncture's effectiveness often say that the only reason acupuncture works is due to the placebo effect. But if acupuncture can make a marked, noticeable and measurable difference in the pain and activity level of an alligator - who cannot consciously expect or intellectually believe that sticking needles in his back is going to change his pain - I feel very safe in saying that acupuncture works on a physiological level to change what the alligator is experiencing and how he is functioning. Wouldn't you agree?
Acupuncture for Back Pain at All Ways Well
I see a lot of back pain in my clinic, it is something I treat every week in and out without fail, and something I have been treated with acupuncture for myself on many occasions thanks to my past martial arts (injuries) and cardio kickboxing history.
In Chinese Medicine pain is always caused by stagnation in the local area and a main thrust of treatment is moving Qi and Blood to relieve pain. The stagnation can be caused by many factors - injury, energetic deficiencies especially in the Kidney as well as energetic excesses - and for long term relief and resolution a specific individual diagnosis and treatment plan must be formulated taking all of these things into account.
When I was a student we learned that a standard course of treatment for anything in China is 10 treatments in 10 days and then you reassess. Here is the US we find that virtually impossible and largely unnecessary. I usually see the average back pain patient once a week for 6 weeks and then reassess our treatment plan.
Acupuncture treatment for back pain often involves needling directly into the area of pain but not always. In my clinic, if something is very acute and painful I usually prefer distal (energetic indirect) treatment until the pain level is a 6/10 or below. Using TAN acupuncture methods I can balance the painful meridians, essentially emptying the excess fullness in the painful area, and can usually relieve pain by at least 50% in one session, sometimes 100%, though somewhere in the 60-80% range is more common. I have had rare occasions where one treatment takes care of the pain completely and it stays away, but it is more common to see relief after treatment and then a slide back towards pain in between. Our goal is to continue that stair step progression until a pain free plateau is reached and then we can decrease treatment and see how little treatment it takes to maintain that pain free state.
Something else I always recommend to back pain patients is Physical Therapy. I find both personally and professionally that nothing takes care of back pain faster than the combination of Acupuncture and PT. Acupuncture helps you get out of pain faster and balances your energetic body while PT ensures that you are not setting yourself up for repetitive motion injury in the future and that your core and posture are strong and correct to both resolve your pain and prevent recurrence.
My go to Physical Therapist is my husband, Brian Kitzerow DPT at Goodell PT in SW Portland though I do have contacts downtown and in SE for those who aren't in the SW area. What I really appreciate about my husband's approach is his strong background in Neurology and Biochemistry which allow him to see the body as an integrated neurological and biological whole beyond the anatomy and physiology which is the baseline for his profession. That plus his continuing education in manual therapy make him a highly effective therapist, especially for chronic pain conditions, and I find it very exciting what we can achieve together.
Do you know someone who has back pain or do you have questions about back pain treatment yourself? Please feel free to contact me anytime with questions or for a free consultation.
~Rebecca Hurwood, LAc
Mint is known by the Chinese name Bo He [pronounced Bu-o-uh Huh] in the Traditional Chinese Medicine Materia Medica.
Bo He is very common in the Pacific Northwest and many of us have probably pulled it up as a weed or used it in various dishes. Did you know it had medicinal properties?
As a lightweight, acrid and aromatic herb, it helps move and disperse “pathogenic factors” which contribute to colds, flus and allergy symptoms. Bo He can also move Liver Qi for reducing stress and pain.
Here is a summary of Bo He’s actions and indications in Chinese herbal medicine:
Bo He; Herba Menthae:
Channels Entered: Lung, Liver
Temperature/Flavor: Cool, Acrid
Energetically it enters the Lung and Liver channels and is cool in nature, and since it is lightweight, it rises to the orifices clearing stagnation from the head and eyes in particular. This means peppermint as part of an herbal decoction, or as plain old peppermint tea, is especially useful in relieving head and eye symptoms associated with colds, flus and allergies.
Also, since Bo He enters the Liver channel as well as the Lung, it can also be used to alleviate “Liver Qi Stagnation” which can manifest as abdominal pain and distention or as STRESS - a feeling that you are stuck, trapped or overwhelmed by life. By freeing your Liver Qi or energy you can relieve some of this tension to help balance the emotions.
If you are using fresh mint from your yard simply pick the plant and boil it in water for 10-15 minutes to make a tea. You can also focus your decoction by using different parts of the plant as well as some simple additions - the leaves enter the Lung channel more readily for cold and flu symptoms and the addition of Chrysanthemum can help, while the stems enter the Liver channel more readily for abdominal discomfort and stress. Here, some fresh ginger and orange peel can focus the stress and digestive functions
So the next time you're feeling a little overwhelmed by life, try lifting your spirits the Chinese Medicine way - with a little mint tea!
Until next time,
Oregon and Washington Individual & Family Health Plans Offering Acupuncture under the Affordable Care Act
Wow, what a week its been - opening of the Health Care Exchange sites, government shut down, a new hurricane?!! Eventful to say the least.
Despite the brouhaha, the Affordable Care Act is in effect NOW and new plans are ready and available for review and enrollment. It is a landmark for our nation and fundamental shift to the way we approach health care in the U.S.. Despite the glitches and kinks, I can't help but be excited about what is to come.
10 Essential Benefits
With the Affordable Health Care Act EVERYONE has access to quality insurance that covers the basics, and "the basics" refers to 10 categories must be included in every plan nationwide:
What exactly is included in these categories is slightly different state to state, however. In Washington these essential benefits include ACUPUNCTURE, 12 visits a year in fact. This means ALL PLANS be they individual or group that are purchased in Washington state will include Acupuncture benefits. How awesome is that?
In Oregon the essential benefits category inclusions do not include Acupuncture specifically, so I've done my best to review the Individual and Family plans available in Oregon to give you a quick list of which plans include Acupuncture towards helping you choose the best alternative care benefits available.
Group plans will be subject to employer review and approval so I have not combed through those here. If you are insured through your employer, however, and will be having a coverage switch in the coming year, I highly recommend you tell HR that you would like Acupuncture benefits included in your package if at all possible. Acupuncture is usually bundled with Chiropractic and Naturopathic care, as well as Massage in some cases, so advocating for alternative care coverage will help you get the best wellness maintenance and stress reduction treatment options out of your new benefits.
Oregon Individual & Family Plans Covering Acupuncture in 2014
Many of the insurance websites have been having glitches with the high volume of traffic this week, and some sites just don't list every benefit online, so my list isn't perfect but its as good as it can be in this time and place.
Here, therefore, is a list of Oregon Individual and Family Plans currently including Acupuncture coverage:
If your insurer isn't listed, don't worry. Remember that this is a review of Individual and Family plans only and does not include group insurance plans many of which will have options to include Acupuncture and alternative care through your employer.
You can review plans and get quotes through the exchange websites here:
Rebecca Accepts Insurance!
Want to make sure treatments at All Ways Well are covered? They are! I am a preferred provider with all the networks listed above except for OHP.
Stay Tuned! Until next time.
As further information about alternative care under the Affordable Care Act is available I will endeavor to keep posting updates on my blog so please stay tuned. If you have questions about your care or coverage and treatment at All Ways Well please don't hesitate to contact me via email anytime.
Have additional questions you'd like answered that I can help with or resources you need help finding? Just ask in the comments section below and I'll be happy to do my best to help you.
Yours in Health,
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.