Thursday, July 23, 2015

Don't resign yourself to chronic nagging hip pain

If you can't sleep on your side due to hip pain, it could be due to trochanteric bursitis.   I treated three cases in the clinic this week.  In each case, the patients came in with MRI reports and diagnosis of of a combination of arthritis, bone degeneration, cartilage degeneration and in one case the dreaded "bone on bone."  Each patient reported that the pain interfered with their ability to to simple daily activities such as sleeping on their side, walking, running, riding a bike, gardening, folding laundry, moving from sitting to standing.  

Clinically, I have seen that having this type of diagnosis is not a mandatory sentence of a lifetime of pain and inhibited movement.   In Chinese Medicine we have a simple saying, "No free flow, pain.  Free flow, no pain."  So my job as an acupuncturist is fairly simple - "free the flow."  Using techniques that combine anatomical acupuncture with meridian theory, I have seen this type of pain resolve after 1-3 treatments.   Once the patient is out of the pain crisis and we have addressed the "branch," I then look to address the root or cause.  In the meantime, the patient is able to get back to their daily activities that make their life meaningful, gardening, biking, running, walking, folding laundry, etc.  I use dietary therapy, herbal medicine and exercises to address the root.

Before you consider daily use of NSAIDS, corticosteroid injections, or surgery, please consider seeing an acupuncturist who has training in orthopedics. 

Here is a Western Medicine Summary from the Cleveland Clinic:

What is trochanteric bursitis?

Trochanteric bursitis is inflammation of the bursa (fluid-filled sac near a joint) at the outside (lateral) point of the hip known as the greater trochanter. When this bursa becomes irritated or inflamed, it causes pain in the hip. This is a common cause of hip pain.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Never tell a runner not to run!

According to Whitfield Reaves,"you can never tell a runner not to run."    This week a female runner came in with chronic achilles pain.  Both achilles were very tender and painful to the touch.  The tissue was inflamed and nodulated.  Knowing that she would keep running, my goal was to support her body to repair the damaged tissue by reducing the inflammation while increasing the blood and "qi" flow.
Achilles tendinopathy affects athletes, recreational exercisers and even inactive people. The pathology is not inflammatory; it is a failed healing response. The source of pain in tendinopathy could be related to the neurovascular ingrowth seen in the tendon's response to injury. 

The achilles tendon tends to get lesions on the anterior portion of the tendon, where there is not much blood flow.  Correctly place acupuncture needles can directly affect this portion of the tendon.  Electrical stimulation of those needles directs the body to clean up the injured tissue.  Tight or knotted calf muscles can also contribute to chronic achilles problems.   If the calf is involved, adding acupuncture needles in the motor points of the gastrocnemius and soleus group.  We call this type of needling anatomical acupuncture which we use in combination with Chinese Medicine's Channel Theory. The achilles tendon is on the Tai Yang channel.   In Chinese medicine the tendons are the tissue of the "liver" system which corresponds to "wood." Tendinopathies are a problem with "wood."  I also used the wood points on the Tai Yang channel to support the treatment.

My treatment plan was treatments bi-weekly for three weeks, with the understanding that she would not stop running during the course of the treatment. My treatments included electroacupuncture, motor point acupuncture, gua sha therapy and tui na massage. After the first treatment, she reported no pain for the remainder of the day.  This lasted for almost two days.  After the second treatment, she was able to run with out pain. While it is exciting to have results, this was a dangerous time.  The danger with acupuncture treatment is that it often reduces the experience of pain.  Pain is an important message from the body.  It lets us know when there is an injury that needs care and support. If we don't get the message that there is an injury, but the injury is still there, it can be tempting to overuse the body.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Acupuncture Alternative for de Quervains

I developed de Quervain's after my son was born, it is actually quite common with new mothers.  It can also show up with gamers, guitar players, texting and other repetitive hand motions.  Patients often report that the pain is agonizing. Not only is the pain intense, but there can also be a loss of functionality.  This loss of function with a new baby is what inspired me to look for alternative treatments.  Western medicine only offers treatment options of  NSAIDS, steroid injections and/or surgery.  These options didn't work for my long term systemic health goals and my immediate need for functional hands, as a new mother.   For patients looking for options, we treat this condition with electro-acupuncture, dietary therapy  and herbal medicine. Everyone responds differently to treatment, and Chinese medicine does not have a one-size-fits-all approach.  I used a combination of electro-acupuncture, dietary therapy and herbal medicine.
  de Quervains Disease

Repetitive movements stressing the tendon combined with runaway inflammation can create the perfect storm. De Quervain's tenosynovitis or disease is an inflammatory condition which can present with wrist and thumb pain.  It often presents with swelling or crepidus (crunchiness). It is painful with movement of the thumb.

The diagnosis is a very simple test.  It can be painful. This simple video shows how to test.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Enhance Athletic Performance with Acupuncture

Here is a great article by my mentor, Whitfield Reaves, about acupuncture treatments to enhance athletic performance for lower extremity athletes (ie. runners)  and upper extremity athletes (ie. baseball pitchers, swimmers etc.)

Acupuncture and the Athlete

Jan 19, 2012
Written by Whitfield Reaves, Licensed Acupuncturist
Acupuncture has been practiced for centuries. The early stories of acupuncture chronicle Chinese martial artists who used needles to relieve their pain after being injured. Warriors and soldiers have historically received acupuncture to improve their stamina and endurance. And in the modern era, many athletes in professional sports and the Olympics extol the virtues of being treated by their acupuncturist.

Low back pain and sacroiliac joint dysfunction in young athletes

Stubborn low back pain in Chinese Medicine if often treated as a "Kidney deficiency."  In young athletes with low back pain, it doesn't make sense to diagnosis kidney deficiency, which is associated with aging.  If there is pain with weight bearing, the sacroiliac joint (SIJ) might be the cause of the pain.  Low back pain is often associated with sports involving repetitive extension, flexion, and rotation, such as gymnastics, dance, soccer and rugby. The SI joint is an area that is rich in fascia and ligaments, therefore it responds well to acupuncture with electrical stimulation.The SIJ is a weight bearing joint, so pain with weight bearing with clue the practitioner to check the SIJ. 

I have found that the sports medicine acupuncture techniques as taught in the Sports Medicine Apprenticeship Program: Treatment of the Low Back, Hip and Pelvis have an amazing effect on chronic low back pain due to sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

Using specific sports medicine techniques more directly addresses this type of stubborn, chronic dull achey low back pain, especially when combined with Chinese Medicine's channel theory.  

"Sacroiliac Joint

The sacroiliac (SI) joint disperses the forces between the trunk and the lower extremities. This joint can be a source of pain in young athletes because of excessive or reduced motion within the SI joint. Pathology of the lumbar spine can alter the mechanics of the lumbar spine, resulting in stress to the SI joints.25 Inflammation of the SI joint can also result in SI joint pain. SI joint inflammation can occur from infection, such as Reiter syndrome, as well as from seronegative spondyloarthropathies, such as Crohn disease, psoriatic arthritis, and juvenile ankylosing spondylitis. Another cause of SI joint pain is a stress fracture of the sacrum.25
Athletes with SI joint pain present with extension pain that is insidious in onset.11,25 On examination, pain is localized to the lumbar or buttock region with extension of the spine. They may have poor pelvic stability on Trendelenburg testing, as well as a positive FABER test (Figure 7). Palpation elicits tenderness over the affected SI joint.2,11,25"" 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Broken bones and bone broth soup

Homemade bone broth is one of  the most common dietary recommendations for patients recovering from bone fractures.  It is also great for patients with osteoporosis,  or for those with tendon and cartilage issues.  A daily dose of bone broth can work wonders.  It is so easy to prepare. You may have seen chicken feet at your local Chinese restaurant and wondered, “why?”

Patients are looking for safe options to support their bones and tendons. Especially with the negative press about calcium supplementation’s increased risks of dementia and cardiovascular events.
Dietary therapy is an incredibly simple and useful tool in Chinese Medicine. Nutrient rich broth allows for

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tending the Tendons

In Chinese medicine Spring corresponds to the "Liver." The  "Liver" system governs the sinews and tendons.  Inflamed tendons respond particularly well to electro-acupuncture. If you are experiencing tendontitis or tendonosis get treatment.

This article was posted at

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Spring, the Liver and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Spring is not just a time to clean and refresh your home, but also a great opportunity to rejuvenate and cleanse your body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is associated with the Wood element, which refers to growth and nourishment in the human body.

Spring represents a new beginning and a time to refresh the mind and body. TCM values the liver as one of the most important organs in the body. The main job of the liver is to spread and regulate QI (energy flow) throughout the rest of the body. This is why the liver is one of the organs emphasized for spring. The liver absorbs everything our body takes in and ingests, being the holder and detoxifier of blood that is circulated throughout the body.

Symptoms of an imbalance in the liver can include anger, depression, irritability, nausea, stiff muscles and bruising. Acupuncture and TCM can aid to restore the liver and body back into balance.
There are 14 acupuncture points for the liver that begin at the edge of the big toenail all the way up to just under the rib cage. When the liver is overloaded, toxins can build up and lead to a blockage in the Qi and blood flow throughout the body. Acupuncture can help to release this blockage and restore our bodies natural flow.

Common Running Injuries

Calling all runners, learn how acupuncture can help you recover from common ailments and strengthen and stabilize your body mechanics.  Great article by fellow sports medicine acupuncturist, Ginna Ellis.


5 Common Running Injuries and How Acupuncture Can Help

By Ginna Ellis
Acupuncture and running are a well-suited pair.
Whether you’re a casual runner or a qualifying entrant in Monday’s Boston Marathon, acupuncture can help you stay on top of your running game. From knee and hip pain to plantar fasciitis and fatigue, many ailments suffered by runners can be helped by acupuncture.
Here is how acupuncture addresses the 5 most common causes of running injuries.

Lazy butt syndrome

The problem
Runners are notorious for having inactive lateral glutes, the muscles that provide stability to the pelvis as you move forward.
When these muscles don’t engage, your femur rotates inward and your hip collapses. This excessive motion in the pelvis increases instability in your knees, ankles, and feet.
Unstable levers cannot tolerate high loads in either intensity or volume, so they tend to get injured. Runners are especially prone to this particular imbalance because they often focus on training the muscles that drive them forward—for example, the quads and calves—and not the smaller muscles that stabilize the pelvis.
How acupuncture helps
A single acupuncture treatment can activate your glute muscles, restoring the connection between your brain and your butt. This allows you to maintain the hip stability require

Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in SF will offer Acupuncture!

So excited to be a part of the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.  I will provide sports acupuncture therapy...