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ACUPUNCTURE, ANOTHER NATURAL APPROACH TO PAIN RELIEF…

I wrote this post about acupuncture in October 2020 but this week I have concentrated on talking about the different types of healing methods which all include points on your body. From hand reflexology to Auricular Therapy.

2.3 million acupuncture treatments are carried out each year, traditional acupuncture is one of the most popular complementary therapies practiced in the UK today. Yet statistics show that 1 in 5 of us would only consider acupuncture for sleep as a last resort. Almost a quarter of people admit they didn’t realise acupuncture could benefit them despite its widely recognised health benefits. It is also now available on the NHS.

The NYR Natural News wrote that ‘Treating children with chronic pain can be complex, due to kids’ vulnerability while they’re growing and the fear of causing long-term effects. To make matters worse, studies into the therapeutic options for treating children’s pain is limited’.

Angela Johnson, MSTOM, MPH, practitioner of Chinese medicine of Rush’s Cancer Integrative Medicine Program, led a recent study that found that acupuncture may be a safe and effective add-on integrative medicine treatment for chronic pain in children. Results of the study were published in Alternative and Complementary Therapies‘.

Back in 2009, after having numerous spinal surgeries and also being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia I was at a stage where no matter what gambit of drugs I was taking I was still in a lot of pain.

I was already having regular aromatherapy massage on my back which I found amazing, but the relief was short-lived, so I decided to go down the complementary therapy route and try something new.

Acupuncture was available at my NHS pain clinic, so I was able to go for regular sessions which were to mainly treat my neck and arm pains. I found these to be beneficial and could notice a difference by the end of each session but as my treatments were only one session every two weeks, I soon found that my pain was back before my next session.

Acupuncture works by stimulating your own body’s healing mechanisms to help with pain and recovery. The concept has been part of traditional Chinese medicine since 1000BC where it was written in scripts on the holistic concept on how it can help heal the body.

It can be helpful in treating health issues that are typically associated with ageing says Natural Health Magazine. “To help support your hormone balance, brain functioning, bone strength, hearing, eyesight and teeth as they age, it’s important to tonify the kidney energy, “ says David. “A powerful acupuncture point is ‘kidney 3,’ also known as ‘supreme stream’, which is at the source point of the kidney energy channel, located close to the inner ankle. This can be effective in helping ease aches and pains.

Without balance in our bodies, there are many health-related problems we can encounter and having an Acupuncture treatment can help to restore your body systems to the right balance. They are quite often referred to as Yin (which is negative) and Yang (which is positive).

The Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapist’s explains how Acupuncture works. The acupuncture needle will stimulate the flow of QI [pronounced ‘chee’], which circulates in channels or meridians within the body. The QI circulates within the deeper organs of the body but connects to the superficial skin. In the state of a normal healthy body, a balance exists between these systems. Both the superficial energy and the deeper energy can be influenced by the stimulation of specific acupuncture points. If injury, disease, emotional trauma or infection occurs, the natural flow of QI within the meridians and organs may well be affected and the result is an altered flow, either a slowing or stagnation of QI causing pain and inflammation, or a deficit of QI, which may cause weakness, exhaustion and longer debilitating disease. The stimulation of relevant acupuncture points may free stagnation, reduce excess or indeed, increase QI to the specific area or organ and thus help to restore normal QI flow and balance.

There are several techniques in applying Acupuncture by Acupressure or Electro-Acupuncture which enhances the repair mechanism and enables an improved recovery time.

The conventional Acupuncture involves the use of single-use, pre-sterilised, disposable needles of varying widths, lengths and materials that pierce the skin at the Acupuncture points. The Physiotherapist will determine the locations of the Acupuncture points, based upon the assessment of the cause of the imbalance. A number of needles may be used at each treatment and these are typically left in position for some 20-30 minutes before being removed.

Trigger point Acupuncture may also be used to facilitate relaxation in specific muscles following trauma such as whiplash injury; for longer-term unresolving muscle pain such as repetitive strain injury (RSI) or as a means to obtain increased muscle length in order to aid stretch and rehabilitation such as sports injuries. Here the needle is placed into the affected muscle until it is felt to relax under the needle and then removed. Trigger point needling is often much quicker and therefore does not require the 20-30-minute treatment time.

Acupressure uses the Physiotherapist’s hands over Acupuncture or trigger points in order to relieve muscle tightness or to stimulate QI flow and balance the body. It is a healing art that uses the fingers of the Physiotherapist on the key Acupuncture points. The amount of pressure used varies according to the condition and requires trained sensitive hands. It is often used with sensitive patients, patients with a needle phobia, children or frail patients.

I do personally believe that Acupuncture and Acupressure can help heal and therefore relieve some pain but what I do not seem to have been able to achieve with this treatment is momentum.

Should it be used weekly, fortnightly, less or more? Is it something you could use to treat yourself? With alternative therapies being preferred by many sufferers for pain relief it’s a case of working out the correct balance of treatments that you need. And, if not available from your NHS finding someone local to give you a session.

I always think another great part of this Complementary Therapy is that your acupuncturist listens to your problems and can adapt the needles accordingly. It is something I am going to go back and have soon. You can find deals and vouchers online.

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WHAT IS GOOD PAIN AND BAD PAIN AND HOW SHOULD WE DEAL WITH IT?..

When the skies are grey and it’s damp and cold outside we can feel down in the dumps even without any pain but for people who suffer chronic pain the dull outside can reflect on the inside and make pain feel worse.

So, to stop the pain from getting the better of you, you need to think of some reasons why the pain you are in is actually an acceptable pain because you will benefit from it in some way. Pain is actually a necessary part of happiness and research has actually shown that it can in fact lead to pleasure in several ways.

A few easy reasons why pain can actually help you recognise pleasure, are that it can form social bonds, it can give you permission to treat or reward yourself, it shows that experiencing relief from pain not only increases our feelings of happiness, but also reduces our feelings of sadness.

Stress and pain can also stimulate the serotonin and melatonin production in the brain, which transforms painful experiences into pleasure. Common sense tells us that people seek pleasure and avoid pain. But that’s not always the case – various activities involve pain, including running, hot massages, tattoos, piercings etc.

We need the sensation of pain to let us know when our bodies need extra care. It’s an important signal. When we sense pain, we pay attention to our bodies and can take steps to fix what hurts. Pain also may prevent us from injuring a body part even more.

Science News explains that “Pain protects us. When you touch a hot stove, you recoil in pain. That sensation helps you avoid getting a burn that could be dangerous — even deadly. The throbbing of a broken foot tells you to stay off it until it heals, so you don’t do more damage. Without those signals, we’d all be in trouble. Big trouble.”

However, does pain serve a purpose? Well, according to ABC News, To be sure, individuals can gain confidence and pride by pushing themselves to complete marathons or other demanding physical challenges. But enduring pain or stress injuries on a regular basis serves no good purpose for the body or soul, researchers say. But good pain is the body’s warning system, it’s the pain that warns you that you are definitely going to have a bad day today or something is seriously wrong with you.

ABC News goes on to say that “When treating pain, patients and their primary care doctors too often overlook the distinction between good pain and bad pain, many specialists say. Patients want to know exactly what’s causing their pain, and physicians often go looking for an underlying physical cause. But this is often the wrong approach. “In many cases, the pain itself is the disease,” Covington said.”

People with fibromyalgia have precious little to show for their suffering. They have no swelling, inflammation, limp or deformity. Blood tests, X-rays, scans and biopsies are normal. Theirs is a subjective illness. They find that family and friends eventually tire of hearing about their intractable pain and its impacts. Little wonder that depression and anxiety are common complications as the pain is most definitely real.

The NHS has a list of ten good ways to help get rid of your pain.

  1. Get some gentle exercise
  2. Breathe right to ease pain
  3. Read books and leaflets on pain
  4. Counselling can help
  5. Distract yourself
  6. Relax to beat pain
  7. Get lots of sleep
  8. Take a course
  9. Keep in touch with family and friends
  10. Share your story about pain

Reading through the NHS list I realised that I had tried every single one of them and most I practice all the time. If it’s not raining or too cold I will always try and get a walk outside as my exercise every day. I use breathing exercises if my pain wakes me up in the night and I read lots of books on the subject (obviously) which helps my posts on this blog. I had counselling once after a near death experience and the GP gave me hypnosis which worked amazing. I have trouble sleeping so always try and get an afternoon rest. I have done lots of courses and definitely think hobbies are a great way to help pain. I always keep in touch with my family and friends. They are what I get up for in a morning. I also like relaxing to help my pain and seem to have that as part of my day.

The final one on the list is sharing your story about pain. Well, I can vouch for this in a big way, it was writing about my pain that got me started on this blog and I have never looked back since. What I would love is to hear from others with their story or maybe a day in their life while coping with pain. If you know someone who might like to share this with me please get them to get in touch.

Source: NHS, Science News, ABC News

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EIGHT WAYS TO CREATE MOVEMENT AND ENERGY INTO YOUR DAY…

We are all feeling a little down in the dumps at the moment with the depressing weather and dark days but you can help create your own energy and movement if you cannot get outside. Here are eight great ideas on how to get you moving and increase your energy.

  1. Climb the stairs even if you are not going upstairs to get something, try increasing the amount of times you climb them daily and you will soon notice how less out of breath you are after a few days of doing it.
  2. Do not sit for too long, make sure you have a regular break. Set your phone alarm to go off every 30 mins and get up and take a walk around your house. Enjoy walking around your house and admire some things you have probably not noticed for a while and you may also find a few cobwebs while walking 🙂
  3. If your phone goes stand up and put it on speaker while you chat to whoever has phoned you. Hold onto a table while chatting and move your legs from side to side. You will forget how many you have done as you will be busy chatting instead. Don’t forget to change legs.
  4. Always go for a short walk just before your lunch, if you cannot get outside to do a short walk to the bottom of your street and back then walk around your garden instead. If that’s not possible either then do a lap of the whole house and count your steps as you are doing it. You will amazed how many steps you will be doing.
  5. If you are working from home, try and make your working space user friendly so that you can do the odd stretch or sit and meditate for a short while. Check out some desk exercises online.
  6. Avoid blue light at night so that you will get a great nights sleep ready for another great day.
  7. Drink lots and lots of fluid during the day and try to eat at regular times. This can help with weight loss as well as wellbeing.
  8. Finally, buy a houseplant – it’s a well known fact that plants are good for you as they purify the air. They also boost your energy and help you sleep, ease stress and make you happy. Simply looking after your plants can lift your mood and improve your wellbeing. They can help air circulation, which can prevent the spread of viruses! To find which plants and where to put them buy this book Houseplants for a Healthy Home: 50 Indoor Plants to Help You Breathe Better, Sleep Better, and Feel Better All Year Round by John VanZile from Amazon at £10.65 (Hardcover).