Acupuncture has been helpful in relieving pain and painful conditions naturally. Acupuncture treatments use needles to stimulate the nerves to send messages to the brain asking it to release painkillers and begin healing.
How does acupuncture work to relieve pain?
Michelina Kraus: Acupuncture works to relieve pain by signaling the body to create an inflammatory response. An inflammatory response is the first call to action when the body senses there’s something that needs attention. It sends hormones and oxygenated blood to different areas of the body, but it also does something else pretty cool. It can stimulate your body’s hormones responsible for decreasing pain. Our body has natural painkillers. One of the big ones most people know about is called adrenaline. If you have ever spoken to someone that’s seriously injured themselves, they will tell you they didn’t even realize how bad the situation was at first because they couldn’t feel anything. The reasoning for this is so we have time to get somewhere to get help and assess the situation because once that pain sets in, it’s pretty difficult to do anything else but think about the agonizing pain. So, in terms of acupuncture treating pain, the needles induce the body to release its own painkillers. It also wakes up nerves and their connection to the brain, which is related to how the brain releases those painkillers, reducing the nerve’s response to feel pain.
What are some of the painful conditions that acupuncture helps with?
Michelina Kraus: In research, acupuncture is known to relieve a whole list of painful conditions like knee pain, low back pain, neck pain, pain associated with any kind of dental work, sciatica, rheumatoid arthritis, sprains, tennis elbow, dysmenorrhea, which is also known as painful periods. I do see a lot of patients with these ailments, and I would say about 90% of the time that they see relief of their symptoms.
For someone who has never experienced an acupuncture treatment, what is involved in a treatment session, and what does it feel like?
Michelina Kraus: For my new patients who have never experienced an acupuncture treatment, I always give a little explanation of what they can expect during treatment, and what it might feel like. I have them fill out a questionnaire, followed by an initial intake. I go over health history and important family history. I then ask questions that help me form a treatment plan for the patient. In acupuncture, we don’t diagnose the way a doctor would. We use terms like excess and deficiency, young-rising and spleen dampness. These will mean nothing to the patient, but I like to give a little explanation of what I see going on with them. It helps create a partnership with the patient. They are part of the treatment, too. It’s not just about a practitioner fixing the problem; the patient has to play a role as well.
With saying that, they usually need to change things that are part of their lifestyle. After all the talking during the intake, I then take their pulse and look at their tongue. By doing this, it gives me more of an idea of what is going on internally with their energy and their organ’s energies. The tongue is the only muscle able to be seen on the outside of the body. Think about it. All your muscles are covered by fascia and skin, however, the tongue isn’t. The ancient Chinese believed this gives us a big clue as to what’s going on with a person’s internal chi or energy.
With regards to taking a pulse, yes, we take the pulse rate into consideration like a doctor, but we also look at it from another perspective. Chinese medicine and acupuncture is not just about treating the issue. It’s whole-body wellness and getting to the root of the problem. The body is composed and made purely of energy. That’s how we became who we are. Acupuncture points are found on the body through lines of energy or meridians of chi, which is Chinese for energy. The meridians are also related to the internal organs and named after them. For example, the liver channel or the large intestine meridian. Yes, acupuncture is all about placing needles in the body, but it is theorized in balancing energy. The needles are simply the mechanism to do that.
I explain to my patients there are good and there are bad feelings of acupuncture. It’s normal to feel anxious. You’re volunteering to let someone place tiny sharp objects in your skin, so feeling anxious is normal. When they’re placed, it’s really, really good if you feel any kind of light cramping or heaviness. If you feel anything sharp or burning that lasts for more than a couple seconds, it’s okay, but to the let the practitioner know so you’re not laying there uncomfortable. In that case, I just adjust the needle placement.
How soon after a treatment session can patients feel pain relief, and how often should patients receive the acupuncture treatments for their pain?
Michelina Kraus: This is always a question I get from my patients. It totally depends on the patient. Some are extremely receptive to acupuncture, while others are not. Some have longstanding issues, and others do not. A general rule of thumb; those with longstanding issues will take more time to see a reduction in pain than an acute case. However, it can also depend on their condition. If they are an eight or a nine on a pain scale of one to 10, and I can barely touch them, they need to come into the office two, or maybe even three times, for the first few weeks and taper off treatments once they start feeling some relief. If it’s something minor, I usually say once a week for the first six weeks, and we can take it from there.
Besides relieving pain, what are some of the other benefits of acupuncture?
Michelina Kraus: There’s a list of conditions that acupuncture could use a little bit more clinical research on; however, from experience and discussions with colleagues, we have seen acupuncture and its effects work on anything from inducing labor, increasing lactation, to Bell’s Palsy, insomnia, earache, and substance abuse detox. These are just to name a few though. It was also known for its amazing effects on reducing anxiety, depression, and even inducing a state of extreme relaxation. Most people feel relaxed while getting the treatment, but the intense relaxation shows up more once the treatment is over.
If you are interested in speaking with Michelina Kraus at Ferraro Spine and Rehabilitation please visit www.ferrarospine.com or call 973-478-2212 to schedule an appointment.