Treating neck pain is always very satisfying for me as a practitioner. I can’t tell you how many times a patient has come in to my acupuncture practice in Sebastopol with stiffness, rigidity, pain and loss of range of motion and walked out with a smile, surprised at how easily their head can now flow on their shoulders from side to side and front to back. Now, not everyone walks out healed on the first treatment. But I can’t remember the last time someone didn’t feel a great amount of relief from the neck pain they were experiencing when they walked in the door.
All this said, there can be many causes of neck pain:
All of these are treatable with acupuncture. In addition, CranioSacral therapy, TuiNa massage and stretching, cupping and gua sha are all therapies that can improve range of motion and decrease pain. Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in relieving certain types of neck pain, particularly those caused by whiplash. In many cases, acupuncture has worked for my patients whose conditions couldn’t be treated using conventional approaches.
If you have a minor acute neck pain, or even some chronic pain that’s due to muscle tension, you can try these simple yet powerful techniques:
If you live in Sebastopol, or any other surrounding areas like Bodega, Forestville, Graton, Occidental, or Guerneville, the clinic is not too far away and is accepting new patients. Visit Apollo Acupuncture for your local neck pain expert! You won’t regret it. If you’re not sure acupuncture is right for you, call today for a free 15 minute consult.
Tennis elbow, aka ‘lateral epicondylitis’, is a painful condition that can be very tricky, or even impossible, for common western methods to treat. It’s a condition of trauma to the tissues on the lateral (outside part) of the elbow. If you are having it on the inside part of your elbow, it’s a similar condition, but known rather as ‘golfer’s elbow’, or ‘medial epicondylitis’. Both conditions are very treatable with acupuncture and massage or CranioSacral, both of which you can receive in one treatment with me in my acupuncture practice near downtown Sebastopol.
I have had many patients come in after months of physical therapy and pharmaceutical medications, desperate for relief. I haven’t had one patient leave without feeling better, even after the first treatment. Typically patients complain of not being able to sleep well, the arm pain waking them up with sensations of tingling or aching or numbness. Many times there is weakness and inability to perform simple daily activities like opening a jar. There are typically sharp shooting pains that come and go when making a fist or motions like shaking a hand and soreness or tenderness around the elbow or travelling down to the hand. Epicondylitis is easily diagnosable with some simple orthopedic exams; your doctor may do some imaging, but typically it’s not necessary for diagnosis.
Many times the injury is due to repetitive stress. For example, someone that is using a keyboard and mouse for many hours daily for work, massage therapists, ultrasound techs, weightlifters, knitters. Other times it can be from a short period of overuse, like spending a week digging in the garden and overusing the muscles and tendons in the area. Whatever the cause, treatment with acupuncture and other adjunct methods such as CranioSacral, massage, liniments, and herbal prescriptions can help relieve the pain and support the tissues in healing.
As far as treatment goes, a few methods will be employed based on your particular circumstances.
In summary, if you live in West County, or even Santa Rosa (I have quite a few patients that travel from Bodega, Graton, Occidental and other Sebastopol surrounding areas) and you are experiencing some elbow pain, please make an appointment today! The sooner that the pain is addressed the more quickly you will heal. I look forward to helping you heal your body! I offer 15 minute consultations to answer any questions you may have.
Many people are surprised to learn that acupuncture, herbs and CranioSacral Therapy in conjunction are helpful treatment methods for hiatal hernia, acid reflux, GERD and heartburn and that I regularly treat patients for these concerns at my acupuncture clinic in Sebastopol. I thought it would be helpful for people suffering from these conditions and symptoms to learn about some of the suggestions that I offer to my patients to supplement their individualized treatments here.
Avoid the following, as these foods are either acidic and will increase symptoms, or will relax the lower esophageal sphincter allowing the stomach acid to rise into your esophagus causing a burning sensation and are best avoided.
Consider increasing alkaline foods in your diet, such as the following:
REGARDING HERBAL OTC REMEDIES
Patients have reported positive responses to bringing these natural alternatives into their diet to reduce symptoms and heal some of the damage to the tissue by the stomach acid. Take when symptoms arise or try as prevention.
Hiatal hernia, acid reflux, GERD and heartburn are all distinct patterns within Chinese Medicine, and with a thorough intake I will find what it is that is at the root of your imbalance, and we will use acupuncture and herbs to create balance and relieve your symptoms and promote healing. If you live in Sonoma’s West County, Sebastopol, Occidental, Graton, Guerneville, Forestville, Bodega or surrounding areas, you can book online now to receive acupuncture for your condition. I hope these tips are useful! If you have any questions, call for a 15 minute free consultation.
Frozen Shoulder syndrome, aka ‘Adhesive Capsulitis’, is a really common complaint that I treat in my acupuncture clinic in Sebastopol with amazing results. Frozen Shoulder Syndrome (FSS) is basically a term that is used to refer to a painful and stiff shoulder with a reduced range of motion.
If you have frozen shoulder, then you will only be able to move your arm in restricted movements. You will feel a dull or achey pain in the shoulder joint, and maybe even feel the pain radiate into the shoulder muscles that wrap around the top of your arm. If I was to move your arm for you, without you trying to help, I would also not be able to move the arm through its regular range of motion. This happens because the capsule surrounding the head of the humerus becomes contracted (the humerus is the long bone of the upper arm, which supports the biceps and other upper arm muscles and the head is end of the bone that fits up into your shoulder joint). There becomes thickening of the fibers with the contraction, and this results in an inability to move the arm in the shoulder joint. Simply put, there is scar tissue (adhesions) that begin to fix the shoulder in place and cause pain.
In Chinese Medicine, this is referred to as ‘Qi and Blood Stagnation’. Qi and Blood Stagnation of Frozen Shoulder Syndrome responds very well to acupuncture, heat applications like moxibustion and TDP lamps, cupping and gua sha, as well as Tuina massage and CranioSacral therapy, all methods of therapy that are included in your treatment at my acupuncture clinic in Sebastopol.
Acupuncture and all of the above mentioned specialized techniques will help break down the scar tissue and increase blood flow to the area. By inserting the small needles into specific places in your body, a nervous system response is triggered that leads your brain to release endorphins and enkephalins, which are natural pain killers. It will also increase blood flow to the area, which will promote healing; the increased blood flow will bring oxygen and nutrients to the injured area, as well as help flush out metabolic waste that was created as a result of the injury. Acupuncture can also help relax the muscles in the surrounding area, which tighten up with the contraction of the capsule.
SUPPLEMENTS FOR HEALING FROM FROZEN SHOULDER
I typically recommend my patients include:
Most patients feel great relief with the first treatment, and if they follow with the appropriate exercise and regular treatments they should experience excellent healing results. Don’t let your frozen shoulder stop you – make an appointment today to treat your Frozen Shoulder in my acupuncture clinic in Sebastopol. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact my office for a free 15 minute consultation.
Sciatica can be a debilitating pain, confusing and overwhelming for those experiencing it. Pharmaceutical pain medications and surgery are typical treatment methods your doctor might recommend, but may not always be the choice you are looking for, and may not even help! A less invasive treatment method being used more and more often is acupuncture, and treatment for your sciatica is available in my acupuncture practice in Sebastopol located in the heart of West County serving surrounding areas of Bodega, Guerneville, Occidental, Graton, and Forestville.
If you are experiencing numbness, burning, tingling, sharp shooting pains, throbbing sensations in your legs and/or feet, you may have sciatica. The pain can be felt anywhere from the buttocks, down the back and/or sides of the leg and to the ankles and can come with or without back pain. Sciatica may also come with weakness of the leg that is affected. One or both legs can be impacted by the sciatic nerve impingement.
Common causes include intervertebral disc herniation and spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal). If you can understand a simple version of the anatomy and function of the spine and nerves, you will understand why you’re feeling these unbearable sensations.
Your spine, or your backbone, travels from your lower back up through your neck to your skull and with it travels a network of nerves that branch out and innervate all of the tissues of your body, including in this case your glutes (butt) legs and feet. The sciatic nerve branches out from the spine in your lower back (the lumbar region) traveling through the glute area down the back of your leg to the heel, on the outer aspect of your lower leg (calf) and the outer ankle area. When the nerve becomes impinged, or pinched on, it will create these painful symptoms of numbness, tingling, shooting pains, etc. There are two main areas where the sciatic nerve gets impinged on, either at its root in the spinal canal in the lumbar region of the lower back where it leaves the spine, or in a muscle in your butt called the piriformis. The latter is called “piriformis syndrome” and we can talk about that in a future blog. Today let’s focus on nerve root compression that occurs at the spine.
Nerve root compression is most commonly caused by a bulging disc or herniated disc, bony irregularities (like spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis or osteoarthritic osteophytes). All of these conditions will create a pressure on the nerve at the spine, and that basically is what is commonly referred to as a “pinched nerve” and results in the symptoms you are feeling with sciatica. In the case of a bulging disc, the disc between the vertebrae of the spine pushes out and presses on the nerve. In the case of the bony irregularities, there is literally bone that builds up on the spine near the nerve, and the growth will begin to press on the nerve.
I have been successful treating many cases of sciatica in my acupuncture clinic. By inserting the small needles into specific places in your body, a nervous system response is triggered that leads your brain to release endorphins and enkephalins, which are natural pain killers. It will also increase blood flow to the area, which will promote healing; the increased blood flow will bring oxygen and nutrients to the injured area, as well as help flush out metabolic waste that was created as a result of the injury. Acupuncture can also help relax the muscles in the surrounding area. In the case of the ruptured or bulging disc, acupuncture is most effective for helping to heal the disc’s tissue. Tuina massage and CranioSacral Therapy are both excellent treatment methods I use for treating bone spurs as well as disc degenerations or traumas.
In acute cases, a patient may get relief within 2-3 treatments. For more chronic issues it could take up to 8-12 treatments depending on the specific circumstances of the incurring injury.
Some patients are curious about how their diet can help with their symptoms. Here are some foods that are recommended to patients with sciatica:
Meta-analysis shows acupuncture a clinically relevant option for sciatica
This research compared 122 different studies to determine the clinical effectiveness of various treatment strategies for sciatica. Researchers found a statistically significant improvement in patients who received acupuncture. This study shows us that there are a variety of options to consider when treating sciatic pain and that acupuncture can be of particular therapeutic value, especially when coupled with other pain-management techniques. More information here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24412033
Acupuncture shown to have pain-relieving effect on sciatica
This study compared 2 methods for treating sciatic pain using acupuncture. Method 1 used 1-2 needles in the gluteal area. Method 2 called for several needles at various points on the body along with 1-2 needles in the gluteal area. Researchers found both methods to be successful, with method 1 providing slightly more relief. This finding is an indication that very few needles can be used to treat sciatic pain, as long as proper point selection is maintained. More information here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21692291
I have had many patients that toss and turn, and can’t get comfortable enough to find a position where they can rest easy at night when they are coming in for sciatica symptoms. Here are some possible options that my patients have found helpful:
I hope this helps you rest easy tonight! If you would like to find out more about how acupuncture can help you, and you live in Sebastopol, Graton, Occidental, Guerneville, Bodega, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park or any of the surrounding areas please give the clinic a call to learn how acupuncture can help you with your Sciatica pain symptoms.
As the days shorten and the weather cools, we will look for ways to continue strengthening immunity and invigorating our physical bodies. Bone broth is an excellent way to do so. From a Chinese medicine point of view, bone broth builds the most essential component of the body, the Kidney essence, along with the qi, blood, bones and tendons. Thus, bone broth is an especially useful staple during the cooler months. When you consume bone broth, you are nourishing your Kidney Yin and Yang directly. We call this 'strengthening the root' in Chinese Medicine because the Kidneys are the root of all Yin and Yang in the body. Here are some interesting tidbits about bone broth I have picked up along the way:
If there are colds going around or if you feel run down, make the following recipe and eat it for two or three days in a row. Increases resistance and builds immunity:
Herbed Bone Broth
4 lbs. roasted chicken necks, backs, feet or 2 roasted chicken carcasses
2 celery stalks
1 yellow onion, quartered
3 large cloves of garlic
12 cups water (3 quarts)
3-4 Tblsp Apple cider vinegar
2 grams Kombu (one large strip)
6 slices ginger
20 g (about 2 Tblsp) Fo Ti/He Shou Wu
16 g (small handful) Chinese yam/Shan Yao
20 g (about 3 Tblsp) Goji berry
10 g (small handful) Astragalus/Huang Qi
15 g (large handful) Reishi mushroom/Ling Zhi
1. Roast chicken bones/pieces on 400 to enrich the flavor of the broth, until they are browned. (optional)
2. Add bones and any juices from the roasting pan to a large crockpot with celery, onion, water, apple cider vinegar and kombu. Turn crockpot on low and bring to a simmer. You don’t want the broth to boil, but a gentle simmer is fine.
3. Simmer for a minimum of 20 hours, then add the herbs and simmer for an additional 4 hours.
4. Strain everything from the broth and discard the solids.
Sip the broth as it is, or use to cook grains and stews. I usually let it cool on the counter for a bit then chill in the fridge. To remove the fat, let the broth cool then you can skim the fat solids from the top. Leave a little, the fat helps your body to absorb minerals!
Nourishes yin, yang, qi and blood. Calming and settling to the spirit. Builds immunity and adaptability.
Bone Broth Tips and lessons
Summer is a good time to up your water intake! Hydration is a key factor in your health, and most important is to drink clean water with a more alkaline nature. The alkalinity is an expression of the minerals that are in water naturally. When water is filtered, it removes most if not all of the minerals along with the toxins. One of the tasks of the minerals is to act as the electrolytes that promote the absorption of the water. When you are mildly dehydrated, these are some of the symptoms you may experience:
Keep in mind, it is not only the water that you need to help with these symptoms, it’s the minerals that act as electrolytes. Electrolytes are responsible for directing the water to the areas of the body where it is needed and also for maintaining optimal fluid balance inside of the cells. In addition, the minerals help your muscles to contract and relax and assist in the transmission of your body’s nerve impulses.
The best water to stay hydrated with is clean pure fresh spring water. If you don't have access to a spring, you can buy it in glass jars at the store. But that is very pricey. The most obvious solution is filtered water with minerals added back in. There are many different options for doing this, from purchasing a trace mineral supplement to drop in your drinking water, or a minute shake of whole salt (like Himalayan or Celtic - not any of the traditional table salts) into your glass.
Learn Your Yin from Yang: What does this look like in the body?
In my last entry I described some general concepts of Chinese medicine including the theory of yin and yang. Let us explore a simple example to make this understanding more vivid.
A generally healthy person comes to the clinic with a symptom of anxiety that has been agitating them for the past few days. After intake we discover there is also a dryness in the throat and eyes. Looking at the tongue we can see some redness to its color, and the pulse itself is not filled out the way we believe it should be for the person, it is ‘thin’.
Any student of Chinese medicine would be able to infer a yin deficiency pattern of imbalance from these few symptoms. What is occurring is a pattern of dryness and heat that is a result of not enough yin in the body. The body fluids that lubricate the eyes and moisten the throat are yin substances. The blood that fills out the pulse is also a fluid - yin - substance. Redness in the tongue shows there is heat; to understand this you can think of what happens to your skin tissues when you have a sunburn! Perhaps the most difficult to understand is the anxiety. In Chinese medicine all patterns of imbalance have emotional symptomatology that will correspond and anxiety reflects a state of heat in the body* (see note below). Without enough yin substance to cool the body, excess yang manifests as heat (remember from the last entry that yang is hot, yin is cool). Heat in the body rises, like a flame will rise up, to agitate the Shen, or emotional spirit of the person causing a fidgety, nervous, monkey mind syndrome.
For this particular pattern to create balance we don’t look so much to clear out the heat as to bring in more yin substance to the body which will cool and settle the excess yang heat, a harmonizing balance of these polar energies. This can look like yin activities such as quiet meditation and relaxing breathing practices; nourishing yin by consuming yin substances like foods such as healthy fats, green vegetables and whole grains; and herbs like Shu Di Huang (prepared rehmannia) and Gou Qi Zi (goji berry).
If the patient continued in their lifestyle practices and did not make any alter to their current state, they might begin to experience more symptoms that fall into this pattern as the yin diminished and heat progressively increased like insomnia, night sweats and dry stools, blurry vision, unsettling hot flashes or a delayed menstrual cycle and infertility. This is how we can interrupt these cycles early with ancient and simple health practices.
*NOTE: Not all anxiety is caused from yin deficiency, it gets more complicated because it can be due to a yang excess; this excess yang will eventually begin to consume the yin like fire boils away water, but in this instance we focus on reducing yang as our main strategy rather than nourishing yin primarily. All symptoms of ill health can be viewed in this complicated manner, and takes dedicated study to understand the complexities. This example is meant for an aid to general understanding of the foundations.
Learn Your Yin from Yang:
Chase L. Desso, LAc