How I do I explain acupuncture to patients?

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.  The first factor it influences is to address why the symptoms are so strong.
Why are the symptoms so strong? Let's start by adding to your understanding of your chief complaint.  The important fact to realize is that there is often a 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.  Imagine, if you will, a serious diagnosis is something like a heavy metal album and a less serious diagnosis is a child singing a folk song.  What 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. 

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.  I will simply help the body finally recover from the old problem and 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 a point and then either myself or the patient will check in with the scar.  If my test points release the pain, then I use acupuncture to re-create what my finger just did.  The acupuncture has to then re-create that gentle finger pressure and that is why many people do not even know I put the needle in.  The acupuncture 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 scare feel more pain or do nothing at all to the scar.

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 am trained in a range of styles such as electro-acupuncture.  Electro-acupuncture is literally like a "TENS unit on steroids."  The approach is similar TENS but has been shown to promote the body's own production of endogenous steroids 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.

 

 

 

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