ACUPUNCTURE, IS IT AS GOOD AS THEY SAY IT IS?

Acupuncture, is it as good as they say it is?

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.

Also, at that time, 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.

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. Unfortunately, my local NHS Pain Clinic no longer offers this form of pain relief which then also means funding it yourself which for some people I am sure is out of the question due to the cost.

 

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‘KRIOTHERAPY’, THE LATEST FEEL-GOOD THERAPY FOR FIBROMYALGIA AND MUSCULAR PAINS…

Kriotherapy (sometimes spelled Cryotherapy) is the latest feel-good therapy which has apparently been known to heal muscular injuries, chronic aches and pains, help alleviate arthritis, and boost circulation, the immune system, and help fatigue, insomnia and the central nervous system !!

It involves spending two to three minutes at a temperature between -60C and -135C depending on your size and fitness level. It is stated that it is not suitable for people who suffer from claustrophobia and no-one should undertake it until a full medical history has been taken.

You are put in front of a fan to dry out your body thoroughly then put into a cabinet where the dry ice begins to seep in while you acclimatise to the -60C, then another door opens and where you are in a -135C atmosphere. After three minutes you are put through paces to help the released blood (which is sent out to protect vital organs in freezing temperatures) surge through your body, with ten minutes on the treadmill, an exercise bike and exercises.

The fact that you are cold, then warm apparently makes the blood swirl into action to help heal.

 

According to an article in Treatwell, writer Charlotte wrote about the treatment at Champneys Health Spa in Tring.

“Instead of trying out the usual Massage or Facial, we decided to test something different in the name of health & wellness – Kriotherapy. Becoming human ice-cubes doesn’t sound too appealing but in the end we had the most fun we’ve had in ages, and left with the softest skin we’ve ever had.

The Venue

The fountain outside made us immediately unwind (and so did the complimentary fruit juice), and the smell of Elemis products got us in the mood for some pampering right away. Walking through the corridors, Champneys Tring is full of things to do and offers a homely feel even though you’re wearing your robes in front of complete strangers. You’re welcomed the very second you step through the door and everyone offers a polite ‘Hello’, even the guests!

The Treatment

Kriotherapy isn’t a treatment for the faint-hearted or the fashion-conscious. We didn’t walk around in our designer bikini, rather some very attractive shorts, a crop top and some clogs (don’t say we didn’t warn you…), but it’s supposed to be a brilliant therapy for those with sports injuries or who suffer from depression, fatigue, psoriasis and insomnia.

The qualified cryotherapist, Renata, gave us a brief examination, taking our pulse and blood pressure to make sure we were fit enough to handle the freezing chambers. If you have high or low blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, heart conditions, or are claustrophobic – it’s best you steer clear from the thrilling treatment. Renata then handed us our outfit – if you’re a fashionista who would never be seen dead in a white woolly crop-top, Kriotherapy might not be your favourite treatment! We wore two pairs of white shorts, two crop-tops, two sets of white hockey socks, and a headband to protect our ears from frostbite (eek). Then Renata told us to make fists with our hands whilst she covered them with gloves and tugged on some bandages over our elbows and knees.

We started to get a little nervous once we were dressed up, but Renata ensured us it was all for our safety. We also stood in front of a fan for a few seconds to dry any perspiration or water lingering on our skin, to ensure any water didn’t freeze and burn our skin inside the chambers.

Once we’d fixed a mask over our nose and mouth and all our extremities were covered up we were led into the first chamber, which is at a chilly -60c. After 30 seconds of acclimatising we jumped straight into the second chamber, which sits at a very frosty -135c. Squealing and laughing, we spent the next 3 minutes marching in circles, jumping up and down, laughing, giggling, anything we could do to keep warm in the freezing temperatures. Renata stood in the warmth holding a timer so we knew how long we had left, and held her thumbs up as we counted down the last 10 seconds between giggles.

After tumbling out of the chamber, we cycled on an exercise bike for a couple of minutes, then spent 15 minutes on a Powerplate to get the circulation going and our rosy body back to its usual colour. Whoever said feeling great didn’t require a bit of hard work?

The Result

Whilst we felt a little embarrassed in our outfit, the treatment itself made our skin feel the softest it’s ever felt and those big gulps of freezing air did wonders for our breathing. Any aches and pains we had previously had gone and we were left excited for a good night’s sleep later. We had been nervous about the freezing chambers, but Renata put our mind at ease and we ended up giggling throughout the whole thing.”

I’m not sure if I’d fancy this and wonder if ice packs, followed by warm packs, would hit the spot just the same? I think I would rather have another type of treatment at this amazing Spa in Tring.

 

#ACUPUNCTURE THERAPY FOR FIBROMYALGIA AND BACK PAIN…

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A UK trial showed patients who received ten acupuncture sessions were far more likely to be pain-free after two years than those who didn’t. 􀀁

An American study saw 60% of back pain sufferers experience a significant improvement after acupuncture. 􀀁

The word “acupuncture” means “needle piercing”. It is a traditional Chinese medical treatment using very fine needles, which are inserted into the skin at any of the 800 specially-designated points. It originated from a Dutch physician, William Ten Rhyne, who had been living in Japan during the latter part of the 17th century and it was he who introduced it to Europe. 􀀁

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It works by manipulating the body’s energy flow, or Chi, to help the body to balance and heal itself. 􀀁 Legend has it that acupuncture was developed when it was seen that soldiers who recovered from arrow wounds were sometimes also healed of other diseases from which they were suffering. 􀀁

I am a true believer in acupuncture and regularly have this for not only my lower back pain but also my neck pain, and have seriously thought about learning the techniques so that I could apply the needles to myself. 􀀁 When my daughter was young she was terrified of needles but after she had an Acupuncture session for pain in her neck she overcame her fear of needles.

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There are a number of good sites on this therapy, but a good starter is Acupuncture UK  and an excellent book is ‘The Acupuncture Handbook – How acupuncture works and how it can help you’, by Angela Hicks, which is available from Amazon and other good book shops.

WALK TO WORK WEEK – 13th – 17th MAY…

Walking to WOrk

Between 13-17 May 2013 employees are encouraged to leave their cars at home and put national transport aside to get your blood pumping and get fit.

Walking is a great way to stay trim and helps keep your heart healthy.

It saves on petrol and bus fares, and is better for our planet.

It’s easy to fit some more walking in to your working week. Whether it’s making changes to how you travel to work, or getting out more at lunchtimes, Living Streets can help.

We’re all sat at our desks long enough, so why not take the chance to stretch our legs, get fit and burn out the carbon footprint all in one go?

Many of the best writers including Charles Dickens and Wordsworth went on walks to get inspiration!

For more details head to the Walking Works Website.

SOME TREATMENTS FOR MYOFASCIAL PAIN SYNDROME…

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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen and many more are used to treat muscle pain. However, long-term use of NSAIDs can lead to unpleasant and even fatal side effects such as digestive tract problems (ulcers, bleeding, heartburn, nausea and bloating); fluid retention and swelling; cardiovascular problems (heart attack, blood clots and stroke); and liver and kidney damage. Consequently, long term use of these for a ‘chronic’ pain is best avoided.

Some doctors prescribe tricyclic antidepressants to help relieve myofascial pain and facilitate sleep. Side effects include cconstipation, confusion, sedation, blurred vision, weight gain, caries, stomatitis, hypotension, tachycardia, Parkinsonism, tardive dyskinesia, urine retention, cognitive dysfunction, liver toxicity, urticaria and many more. However, ‘all’ medications have ‘some’ side effects, so finding the right one to suit you can be quite difficult.

Myofascial Release focuses on treating tightness (trigger points) in the fascia with the goal of relieving myofascial pain and improving movement. A physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath or massage therapist locates the trigger point and applied a gentle stretch. When the tissue has relaxed, the stretch is gradually increased until the tissue is fully relaxed.

A Trigger Point Injection is a needle is inserted into a trigger point in order to inactivate it and relieve muscle tension. In some cases an anaesthetic or corticosteroid medications are injected into a trigger point. They say that injection of an anaesthetic is ‘less’ effective compared with acupuncture (dry needling) according to several controlled studies. I have acupuncture which works best for me.

Stretch and Spray Technique is a technique which involves spraying the muscle which contains the trigger point with a coolant, such as fluorimethane and then gently stretching the muscle.

High Voltage Galvanic Stimulation: This therapy uses direct current and is based on the reaction of two elements with opposite ions (positive and negative) when charged. The positive part acts like ice, reducing circulation and swelling. The negative part acts like heat, increasing circulation and speeding up healing.