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How I do I explain acupuncture to patients?

Acupuncture is a "discovered technology."  We use discovered technologies every day such as baking - people made bread for thousands of years before we understood all the chemical reactions that happen to some dough in an oven.  Similarly we know how to use acupuncture but the research is still in the early stages.  So far, acupuncture has been shown to affect a human's physiology in many ways, from changing the molecules made by nerve endings to changing the ratio of inflammatory cytokines in the blood.  From increasing the blood flow to an injured part of the body to changing pain signal related gene expression levels in the spinal cord.  If you are interested in the biological effect of acupuncture in your diagnosis, please ask.  There is a lot more going on than just a placebo.  The initial goal with acupuncture is to make the symptoms less strong. When the symptoms are reduced or eliminated satisfactorily, we can work towards stabilizing this improvement so you can graduate from care.   

Why are the symptoms so strong?

The important issue to understand is that there is often a big difference between the causes of a problem and how severe the problem is.  Many people that share the same basic diagnosis of say, a herniated disc, do not share the same experience of the problem.  For the same findings on an MRI from 3 different people, one person might be in a wheelchair, another person may be in a lot of pain but can still work, but another person had no symptoms at all - they where getting the MRI for another reason and the the herniation was found accidentally.
I often use the analogy of a CD player.  Ready for an analogy? Imagine, if you will, a serious diagnosis is something like a rockin' heavy metal album and a less serious diagnosis is a child singing a folk song.  Which music is louder? That is, what diagnosis is more severe? Well we can't fully answer that until we checked the speakers. Are they turned to 1/10 or do they "go all the way up to 11?"  Put a heavy metal album on on low volume and it is comfortable background sound, put the folk song on max and it can be totally distracting.  My care always looks at both the CD player and the speakers.

Why do people experience the same diagnosis in so many different ways?

To paraphrase Pasteur - "It's not the diagnosis, it's the terrain."
If your body's resources to repair and manage symptoms are preoccupied with old healing projects or other priorities then it can be difficult to deal with another, separate issue in the body.
Here is just one example out of many: someone with old scars from an appendectomy or gallbladder removal.  As a practitioner of Japanese acupuncture, I will very gently check in with the scar.  Still tender to the touch?  The patient says "I had no idea it hurt there.  But I had that thing out 30 years ago!"
The answer is that the scar is still healing.  It has not yet been neurologically integrated with the rest of the body.  In the clinic, I regularly find that this scar is the road block that is allowing symptoms in another part of the body to become a problem, or even allow symptoms like depression and anxiety. When I simply help the body finally recover from the old problem, we see current problems significantly reduced or eliminated.
There are many other signals of incomplete healing projects in the body besides scars. I also find signals from a history of severe illness, head injury, traumatic experiences or chronic stress.  

How do you know the old issue is being resolved?

I will simply test the acupuncture points I think might help.  To continue the example with an old scar, I gently use my index finger to apply light pressure at an acupuncture point and then either myself or the patient will check in with the scar.  If my test point releases the pain, then I use acupuncture there to re-create what my finger just did.  The acupuncture has to re-create that gentle finger pressure and that is why many people do not even know I put the needle in.  The acupuncture then has a stronger, more long lasting effect than just the quick acu-pressure.
An interesting issue to mention here -  if the acupuncture was all placebo, then pretty much any test point should have the same result.  But in fact the main reason that I was trained to test, the main reason I "look before I leap", is that we often find some acupuncture points have the capacity to make the scar feel more pain or do nothing at all to the scar.  Thus in my style of care we avoid wasting a lot of time.

Are there other styles of acupuncture that you use?

When the patient and I can clearly see that a problem really just is a "local" issue whose healing is not being slowed down by other healing projects in the body or even major whole body structural issues, I have decades of experience with a range of styles such as manual therapy, trigger point acupuncture and electro-acupuncture - to name just a few.  Electro-acupuncture is literally like a "TENS unit on steroids."  The approach is similar to TENS but has been shown to promote the body's own production of endogenous steroids (not the weight-lifting kind, I'll explain when you get here) and other cell factors to inhibit swelling, enhance tissue regeneration, calm down sensitized nerves and improve function of the damaged area.  

Is Acupuncture Safe?

Yes. Acupuncture is used by millions of Americans every year. Acupuncturists are required to undergo extensive education, including detailed study of human anatomy and training in Clean Needle Technique. I have passed comprehensive national board examinations administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and am licensed by the state. As required by law, I use pre-sterilized, disposable, single-use needles to ensure your complete safety.

What is so special about Japanese acupuncture?

The Japanese discovered a way to get the most out a single treatment and need fewer treatments overall, but to do so in a way that is so gentle that even people very scared of needles can relax.  Many famous acupuncturists in Japan were blind, and their increased sense of touch allowed for many exciting discoveries to be made about how a body responds to treatment.  In fact as part of my training, I had to perform entire acupuncture sessions while blind-folded from start to finish to test my skills at reading the body!  

While many acupuncture protocols used in China are aggressive and require many visits a week, the Japanese style I practice is designed to succeed with far fewer number of treatments and far fewer needles.  The acupuncture is effective because of all the testing and diagnostic work performed before each needle is placed.  The style also gets more out of each acupuncture point because the point can be stimulated with moxibustion.  Patients can work those points themselves at home confident they know what effect the point has on their condition.

The technique is so effective that "pyonex" needles can be used.  These are imbedded on a small sticker that looks like a small round band-aid, but the needle is only 0.11mm long.  These are comfortable enough to be used on infants.  They are so comfortable you can put one on the tip of your finger and still type on a keyboard without feeling it.  Amazing technology.  

 

Zachary treating migraines

Zachary treating motor vehicle accident

 


Zachary B. Corbett, L.Ac.
132 East Broadway, Suite 312,
Eugene, OR. 97401
Phone: (541) 686-9424