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Acupuncture: Not Just for Pain

We're used to Western medicine treating a particular symptom or condition, and we don't expect it to help something else at the same time. But treating the whole person instead of just the symptom tends to make everything get better. 

by Ki Ennes

A patient of mine whom I’ve been treating for chronic back and knee pain asked me a question.  “Have you been needling points for depression?” “Well, not exactly”, I answered. “Why do you ask?” She said, “Since I’ve been getting acupuncture I feel better. I’m not as down and depressed so I was wondering if you were doing points for depression.”

This is one of the many reasons I love acupuncture. A patient comes in for a specific issue, in this case back and knee pain. After a few treatments, she notices lots of other things are getting better too. For example, she also told me her incontinence was better and so was her sleep.  

So was I needling points for depression? Not exactly. I was needling points to help correct the underlying imbalance that lead to her back and knee pain.  Helping re-establish her balance naturally helped everything else. In other words, acupuncture is truly holistic, meaning it treats the whole person, mentally, emotionally and physically.

How does this work? In acupuncture we look for the underlying patterns of disharmony. We find the ways that a person is out of balance according to Chinese medicine theory. But back pain is back pain, right? Again, not exactly. In Chinese medicine theory, knee and back pain can come from several different causes. Or even a combination of causes.

With every patient the acupuncturist will take into account many factors including sleep, diet, body functions, medical history, lifestyle and so on.  After reading the pulses and examining the tongue, the acupuncturist will have enough information to determine a diagnosis. Knee and back pain are the symptoms. The diagnosis is the underlying cause. Now the patient can receive a customized treatment. 

Lots of people have joint pain. Lots of people have depression. But each person is unique and so typically no two people will get the exact same treatment. As the underlying imbalance is corrected, everything else starts to get better too. 

Think of a flower with brown spots on its petals. You can remove the affected petals. Or you can improve the soil. When you improve the soil, the petals don’t have brown spots, the leaves are glossier, and the stems are stronger. The entire flower is healthier.

I just saw this patient again. She told me that she has noticed she’s now laughing at things that used to make her mad. She dropped her coffee cup and she chuckled instead of getting angry at herself. I’ve noticed too that her face is brighter where it used to be dull. There’s a twinkle in her eyes now that wasn’t there before. 

Acupuncture is great for pain. It’s also great for most anything. 

Acupuncture doesn’t just treat the symptoms; it treats the whole person.

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