Acupuncture and Peripheral Neuropathy

Acupuncture and Peripheral Neuropathy

Think of nerves like the electrical cable of your body. They transport electrical impulses from the brain, helping you feel sensations and move your muscles, breathe, sweat, and digest food. Sometimes, the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves) get damaged. This damage can come from diabetes, injuries, infections, and exposure to toxins. The result is sensations of weakness, numbness, and pain, often in the hands and feet. In some cases, peripheral neuropathy can impact digestion, urination, cognition, and circulation.

Peripheral neuropathy is a progressive, chronic condition. For a long time, treatments were limited to medications – antidepressants, pain medication, anti-seizure medications, and topical creams. While those can be helpful, they tend to treat the symptoms, and may not be effective in slowing or reversing the progression of the disease.

Treating peripheral neuropathy is one of our specialties at Affinity Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine in Nashville. Our team has specialized training in using acupuncture and supportive therapies, and has helped countless individuals not just relieve pain and discomfort, but also slow the progression of the nerve damage. We’ve even had clients who used wheelchairs when they began treatment, and improve enough to walk independently again.

Acupuncture is a non-invasive treatment free of the side effects that come with many medications. It can help the body recover from trauma, both acute and chronic. We use fine, micro-filament needles to help improve circulation and stimulate the nerve pathways. Acupuncture can also re-stimulate damaged nerve fibers and prevent them from dying off, in some cases slowing and reversing the progression of peripheral neuropathy.

If you or someone you know is living with peripheral neuropathy, acupuncture might be an effective treatment option. You can call our office at 615-939-2787 to set up an initial consultation with William. He works with clients to develop a specialized treatment plan specific to each individual’s needs. Our goal is to help you live your best life, and provide you with care, support, and expertise along the way.

Weather and The Body – Myth v. Fact

Weather and The Body – Myth v. Fact

Weather and The Body – Myth v. Fact. Have you ever woken up to stiff joints or a pressure headache, and suspected there was bad weather coming in? Does going outside with wet hair on a cold day actually make you sick? Stories of a pending storm triggering an arthritis flare-up are so prevalent, we even see it reflected in television and movies. It can’t help but make you wonder, are these claims urban legends and old wives’ tales, or is there a basis in truth? Anecdotal evidence shouldn’t be confused with scientific research, but some of those old wives had some basis in fact to back up their claims.

The Nose

Have you ever walked out into the cold only to have your nose start running? As part of the respiratory tract, the nose acts like a filter by warming, humidifying, and cleaning the air you breathe before it reaches your lungs. The nose increases mucus production as an automatic defense when it hits cold, dry air.

Shivering

Your body is filled with defense mechanisms, and the shiver is one of them. Shivering is actually the body experiencing quick muscular contractions, which generate heat and decrease the body’s risk of dropping temperature too dramatically.

The Heart

Your heart has to work harder to circulate blood when in extremely cold environments. This is one of the reasons we hear about people having heart attacks while shoveling snow. The cold air can cause an uneven distribution of oxygen to various parts of the heart. In most cases, the body can adapt and redistribute, but for some, oxygen may be so severely impaired that it triggers a heart attack.

Breathing

Cold, dry air can irritate the lungs, leading to wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. This can be especially true for individuals with underlying conditions such as asthma, COPD, and bronchitis. Covering your mouth and nose with a scarf can actually help protect damage to the airways, by trapping some of that precious moisture.

The Immune System

Cold weather can weaken the immune system, but going outside with wet hair on a cold day will not, in and of itself, cause a cold. The common cold is a virus – it can only be caused by exposure to the virus. Some viruses thrive in low-humidity, which we often experience in the fall and winter. Also, when it’s cold outside, people gather indoors more often, increasing exposure.

Joint Pain

There are scientific studies showing that damp, windy days with low atmospheric pressure can increase arthritis pain by up to 20%. Low temperatures can also make the fluid around joints thicker, which is why they feel stiffer. A decrease in barometric pressure can cause inflamed tissue to expand, leading to increased pain.

There are a lot of additional old wives’ tales about remedies for cold weather ailments – we’ll address the fact and fiction of those in another post, on another day. In the meantime, if you’re looking to improve your circulation and boost your immune system to stay healthy this winter, set up your next session at Affinity Acupuncture in Nashville, TN by calling 615-939-2787.

Affinity Acupuncture Featured in Nashville Lifestyles Top Doc Edition

Affinity Acupuncture Featured in Nashville Lifestyles Top Doc Edition

Affinity Acupuncture Top Acupuncture in Nashville, featured in Nashville Lifestyles Top Docs

 

Affinity Acupuncture Top Acupuncture in Nashville, featured in Nashville Lifestyles Top Docs

William Alexander, L.AC, is a renowned acupuncturist in Tennessee, specializing in chronic pain cases, specifically those previously deemed as “hopeless” or “untreatable”. In addition to owning and Operating Affinity Acupuncture and Integrative Care, William has served as Treasurer for the Tennessee Acupuncture Council and a member of the American Society of Acupuncture’s Insurance Committee. William has also proposed bills to the state of TN in order to protect the safety and integrity of clients and the practice of acupuncture.

When William opened Affinity Acupuncture and Integrative Care in 2012, he tirelessly devoted himself to creating an environment where clients get the results they need with an unparalleled level of care, comfort, and respect. William knows that no single approach is the right one for every individual. He uses the time-tested science of acupuncture and the most cutting age and innovative integrative medicine – including a technology originally developed by NASA that assists in increasing blood flow and expediting recovery and healing – to treat a variety of debilitating diseases.

For over a decade, William has specialized in treating chronic pain, peripheral neuropathy, and musculoskeletal pain. Clients often refer friends and family for pain, allergies, headaches, fibromyalgia, sciatica – even the “acupuncture facelift.”

William treats clients of all ages, with specialized training in geriatrics. Dawn, one senior client, received treatments for peripheral neuralgia so severe it kept her awake at night and in too-large shoes. Dawn enthusiastically describes life after William’s treatments: “It’s life altering. As far as I’m concerned, he saved my life.”

He is dedicated to continuous learning and remains at the forefront of acupuncture and integrative medicine advancements, ensuring his clients receive the most effective treatments available. William’s compassionate approach and innovative techniques have made him a trusted name in the field, helping countless individuals regain their quality of life.

Dry Needling: Explained

Dry Needling: Explained

Trigger Point Dry Needling and Acupuncture can seem to refer to the exact same practice. An outside observer sees the insertion of thin needles in a sterile but tranquil environment and assumes the results, methods, and treatments are the same.

 

This, however, is not true. Trigger point dry needling (aka: TDN) is actually quite different from the traditional practice of acupuncture. Although it is true that both practices use essentially the same tools — both TDN and acupuncture use very small, thin needles — they aim to treat different ailments in different ways.

 

Let’s remove some of the mystery associated with the relationship between Trigger point dry needling and acupuncture by explaining the differences between the two practices.

 

Practice

 

Trigger Point Dry Needling is a method used to treat pain resulting from neuromuscular skeletal conditions. Acupuncture can also be used to fight chronic pain (along with other ailments) but the issues addressed are different. Acupuncture aims to align the meridians of the body, while dry needling addresses trigger points. These trigger points are associated with specific points of pain within the muscular system. Needles are inserted into these trigger points, essentially releasing them and easing the pain that previously emanated from them.

 

Learn more about Trigger Point Needling in Nashville, TN today!

 

Origin

 

The origins of acupuncture and dry needling happened quite a long time away from each other. Acupuncture is dated back to ancient China over 4,000 years ago. Dry needling, however, dates back to the 1940’s and was coined by Dr. Janet Travell in the United States. She and Dr. David G. Simon identified most of the trigger points located throughout the human body. This is considered to be the first generation of the practice.

 

The second generation came in the 1970’s through the work of Dr. C. Gunn. He developed a treatment for myofascial pain called Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS). This work didn’t directly reference the first generation of dry needling, but the combination of these two fields of work are what informs the current practice.

 

This practice is continuing to evolve as we learn more about how trigger points affect our bodies and more research is conducted. Aspects of dry needling are being incorporated into other forms of physical therapy. Innovations are improving the results seen through TDN and expanding upon its current use.

 

Methods of Treatment

 

Insertion of thin needles might look similar when comparing dry needling to acupuncture, but the actual practice has some differences. First of all, acupuncture is generally performed by strategically placing needles along specific points in the body at a fairly shallow depth.

 

Dry needling is also performed with strategic placement, although as we said earlier the aim is to address trigger points and not meridians. The needles are also placed a little deeper for dry needling than they are for acupuncture and for shorter periods of time.

 

The depth at which the needles are placed depends on the specific trigger points and muscles that are to be addressed.

 

Uses for Trigger Point Needling

 

The application of needles to target specific trigger points can have a wide range of benefits for the patient. Although, it should be noted that trigger point dry needling is but one part of a larger physical therapy treatment plan to address a particular issue. A consultation with a trained acupuncturist will help put together a plan to treat the issue.

 

Trigger point dry needling can be used to treat a wide range of conditions such as repetitive stress injuries, neck pain, headaches, muscle tendonitis, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, muscle strains, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff impingement, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

 

What to Expect from Dry Needling?

 

Patients seeking dry needling can do a little preparation beforehand to help the treatment along. First, patients should eat a light meal between one and two hours before the appointment. Wear loose and comfortable clothing that can be rolled up if necessary to reach certain parts of the body.

 

The depth of the needles isn’t generally a concern for many patients. However, there is a possibility that the patient will feel the insertion of the needle. The goal is to elicit a local twitch response in the muscle which can occasionally result in brief pain that feels similar to a deep ache. However, these responses are generally very short.

 

It’s common to see benefits very soon after treatment. Depending on the issue being addressed, patients see improvements in range of motion and a decrease in previous symptoms. There can occasionally be bruising around the treated area as well as some soreness that clears up anywhere between a few hours a couple days after treatment.

 

 

 

Contact Affinity Acupuncture for dry needling treatment in Nashville!

 

Acupuncture: Natural Back Pain Treatment

Acupuncture: Natural Back Pain Treatment

Lower back pain affects just about everybody at some point in their life. Maybe you spent the weekend doing yard work and now it’s difficult to tie your shoes. Or perhaps you have chronic issues that have been following you for a while. Whatever the case, lower back pain can be a great hindrance in not only performing daily tasks, but being able to enjoy yourself.

There’s a growing backlash against pain medication. There has been an unfortunate tendency for doctors to overprescribe these medications, which can lead to addiction and other negative consequences.

So what is a person to do if they want to find relief from pain while also avoiding costly and dangerous medications? They start looking for a natural means of alleviating this pain.

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years as a back pain treatment. However, there are still people that dismiss the practice as ineffective without actually looking into the research or trying it themselves.

The Research

The largest scientific study involving acupuncture’s efficacy in back pain treatment was performed in 2007. It used data from 1,162 patients with ages ranging from 18 to 86 years old. These patients all suffered from chronic lower back pain. The average length of their back pain was eight years.

The patients were split into three groups. The first received acupuncture in an attempt to treat their lower back pain. The second received what they called “sham acupuncture,” which is the insertion of needles but without strategic placement. The third group received conventional treatments for the back pain which included medication, physical therapy, and exercise.

The results were collected after six months of treatment. They were recorded using interviews with the patients in order to determine their pain levels. Both the Von Korff Chronic Pain Grade Scale questionnaire and the back-specific Hanover Functional Ability Questionnaire were used to compile the data

The results of the study were pretty surprising to anybody that didn’t have previous knowledge of acupuncture. 

47.6% improvement in pain was reported by the patients that received acupuncture. This is quite an achievement when compared to the 27.4% improvement for those who received conventional therapies.

The “sham acupuncture” group, however, reported a 44.2% improvement in pain which has caused some to muddy the waters of success for acupuncture. There are a variety of theories as to why this would happen, including the placebo effect as well as the difficulty in truly creating a neutral version of acupuncture.

But when you compare this singular study against the 2,500 year history of using acupuncture as a back pain treatment, it’s easy to see there’s more to the practice than a simple placebo effect.

Visit Affinity Acupuncture for back pain treatment in the Nashville, TN area today!

How It Works

Traditional Chinese medicine bases acupuncture around the idea of energy within your body. This energy needs to be balanced. 

Acupuncture is performed through the strategic insertion of needles into specific points in the body. These points are connected through a series of pathways — called meridians — which creates the open flow of energy. 

The insertion of these needles helps to stimulate these points. This stimulation opens the pathways and creates the balanced flow of energy along the body’s meridians.

This improved flow of energy helps the body to fight off sickness and pain.

Scientific studies are difficult to perform on the practice so those in the medical community aren’t able to definitively state why acupuncture works. However, many doctors recommend their patients use acupuncture to treat their pain. So even if they can’t specifically state why acupuncture works, it is widely touted for its ability to treat back pain.

Those in the medical community do have their theories, though. Some think acupuncture needles stimulate the central nervous system which releases chemicals to the brain, blood, and muscles. Others think it increases the speed of electromagnetic signals in the body which increases the flow of endorphins.

But despite their varying theories as to why it works, it’s widely accepted that acupuncture is a legitimate method for back pain treatment. 

Seeking Back Pain Treatment in Nashville

Those seeking back pain treatment in the Nashville area can visit Affinity Acupuncture for natural pain relief. We aim to help the Nashville and surrounding communities by offering individualized care through traditional Chinese methods that have been used for thousands of years. We offer acupuncture for back pain treatment as well as many other conditions. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends acupuncture as treatment for neck pain, depression, headaches, sciatica, and more.

Contact Affinity acupuncture to learn more about their back pain treatment options in Nashville, TN today!

Acupuncture Soothes Cervical Spinal Nerves, Reduces Pain

Acupuncture Soothes Cervical Spinal Nerves, Reduces Pain

Researchers find acupuncture effective for the relief of cervical spinal syndrome. This condition involves irritation of the spinal nerves located in the neck. Spinal nerves transmit sensory, motor, and autonomic nervous system signals between the spinal cord and the body. Inflammation and impingement present in cervical spinal syndrome results in head, neck, chest, shoulder, or arm pain and dysfunction. The results of the research demonstrates that acupuncture plus moxibustion yields a high total recovery rate. In addition, nearly every patient receiving acupuncture plus moxibustion demonstrated significant improvements.

Researchers from the Hubei Hongan Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital examined 200 cervical syndrome patients in a controlled investigation. The research team discovered that targeted acupuncture treatments produce an extremely high total effective rate and a high complete recovery rate. Targeting involved the application of a primary acupuncture point prescription for all patients plus an additional set of secondary acupuncture points based upon diagnostic variations in clinical presentations. Using this semi-protocolized targeted approach to patient care, the research team achieved a 97% total effective rate across all tiers of improvement. The breakdown into levels of efficaciousness produced surprising results. The total recovery rate was 64%, the significant improvement rate was 17%, the minimal improvement rate was 16%, and 3% had no improvement.

Dr. Ruth Jackson, MD, notes, “The nerve roots leave the spinal cord at an angle which approximates a right angle, and they fill fairly snugly the foramina through which they pass. This makes them very vulnerable to irritation from any mechanical derangement of the cervical spine.” Cervical syndrome is often triggered by a small event, such as leaning over a sink while brushing teeth or turning the head. However, the initial cause may have been prior, including whiplash injuries, mechanical deformities, or other chronic irritations. The tight spacing of the intervertebral foramina (IVF) through which the nerves pass is easily encroached by both chronic and acute conditions that produce inflammation and morphological changes.

A primary set of acupoints was administered to all patients in this acupuncture continuing education study. A total of 3 – 4 acupoints from the primary set were applied during each acupuncture session. Each acupoint, including customized secondary acupoints, were needled with standard manual acupuncture protocols for insertion and manipulation. Total needle retention time during each acupuncture session was 20 minutes. One acupuncture session was applied daily for a total of 10 days, followed by a two day break and then another 10 days of acupuncture therapy. For moxibustion, a moxa cigar was used to warm the cervical Jiaji acupoints for 30 minutes per day. One 30 minute moxibustion treatment was conducted daily for 10 consecutive days. The next treatment cycle of an additional 10 days of moxibustion care commenced after a 2 day break from treatment. The primary acupoints were selected from the following selection:

Fengchi (GB20)
Dazhui (GV14)
Jianjing (GB21)
Tianzong (SI11)
Lieque (LU7)
Zhongzhu (TB3)
Houxi (SI3)
Ashi (located beside spinous processes)
Secondary acupoints were selected based on the type of cervical syndrome presentation for each patient. For nerve root compression cervical syndrome affecting the shoulders and arms, the following points were applied:

Jianyu (LI15)
Tianzong (SI11)
Binao (LI14)
Yanglao (SI6)
For vertebral artery related cervical syndrome, the following acupoints were applied:

Taiyang (MHN9)
Touwei (ST8)
Baihui (GV20)
Sishencong (MHN1)
Neiguan (PC6)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Taichong (LV3)
Zusanli (ST36)
For sympathicus cervical syndrome involving excess stimulation of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system, the following acupoints were applied:

Taiyang (MHN9)
Jingming (BL1)
Qiuhou (MHN8)
Yifeng (TB17)
Neiguan (PC6)
Zusanli (ST36)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Jiaoxin (KD8)
Yinjiao (CV7)
Patients were evaluated before and after the treatment course of care. The treatment efficacy for each patient was categorized into 1 of 4 tiers:

Recovery: Complete recovery of neck function. Complete absence of clinical symptoms.
Significantly effective: Alleviation of localized pain. Clinical symptoms largely absent.
Effective: Localized pain present. Basic physiological function achieved. Main clinical symptoms absent.
Not effective: No improvement.
The total treatment effective rate was derived as the percentage of patients who achieved at least an effective tier. The data shows that acupuncture combined with moxibustion benefits nearly every cervical syndrome patient to some degree, with a 97% total effective rate across all tiers of improvement. The 64% complete recovery rate is equally important.

The researchers gave a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) background to the treatment of cervical syndrome, often manifesting as cervical spondylosis. According to TCM, cervical syndrome is common starting in middle-aged individuals and older. Often, cervical nerve impingement is due to osteoarthritis and cervical disc protrusions or extrusions. Radiculitis is common in all cases. According to TCM principles, left untreated, cervical syndrome is a degenerative disorder. Calcification of related ligaments due to chronic strain and inflammation may lead to oppression of the cervical vertebrae, nerve roots, and blood vessels. There may also be pressure onto the spinal cord in more serious cases. These conditions lead to cervical dysfunction and pain.

In TCM, cervical syndrome is often categorized in the class of Bi Zheng. External pernicious influences giving rise to cervical syndrome include external injury, exhaustion, wind, cold, and dampness. Zang-Fu and deficiency related conditions include deficiency of the liver and kidneys or tendon and bone malnutrition. The aforementioned conditions result in poor qi and blood circulation in the Taiyang meridians and imbalances of the Ying and Wei. Symptoms such as severe neck pain, shoulder pain, numbness, headache, dizziness, and nausea ensue as a result of the condition. The results of the research demonstrates that acupuncture combined with moxibustion is effective for the relief of cervical syndrome.

Contact Affinity Acupuncture today for Nashville Acupuncture treatments and appointments!

References:
Li HX & Zhao L. (2013). Efficacy observation on treating 200 cases of cervical syndrome with acupuncture and moxibustion. Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine. 5(3).

Jackson, Ruth. “The Classic: The Cervical Syndrome.” Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 468, no. 7 (2010): 1739-1745.

http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1699-acupuncture-soothes-cervical-spinal-nerves-stops-pain