Acupuncture & Pain – Albuquerque Acupuncturist – Richard Connell, DOM
Acupuncture and the Treatment of Pain By Richard A Connell, DOM, Licensed Acupuncturist Albuquerque, NM 87109
What is Pain? Let us start with the idea that every sensation in the body is there for a reason. Pain lets us know that something is wrong. An extreme example is touching a stove. Pain lets us know to pull back. This happens on an almost instinctive level. We have instinctive reactions to pain that help us survive.
That is the “good” side of pain. Does that make it easier to comprehend our neck, back or knee pain or our headache or our excessive menstrual cramps? Maybe. Please rethink that pain lets us know that something is wrong – Can this be said about the aches and pains that bother us daily? Is it an alarm that something is wrong or out of balance as we like to say in Oriental Medicine?
Oriental Medicine is a medicine of relationships. Over the last 3-5 thousand years this system of relationships has been further developed and continually refined in the clinical setting. Practitioners have passed their clinical knowledge and refinements to the next generations. What I practice in this office to help you is a result of this refinement over 3-5 thousand years.
When we focus on relationships, balance becomes a key concept. All the factors that influence our health need to relate in a balanced way. When one element that is essential for our healthy balance is in excess or deficiency it will naturally affect all the others. Understanding these relationships, as they relate to an individual, to bring back balance is the science and art of Oriental Medicine.
Oriental Medicine is an ancient medicine (3-5 thousand years). The culture of a time and place will influence the medical system of that time and place. This is true with Western medicine as well. For Western people like most of us, understanding Oriental medicine is sometimes difficult because we have not grown up in the culture and shared its philosophies. The medicine is foreign to us on many levels.
The principle concepts of Oriental medicine – Qi, Yin and Yang and their balance and harmony – are sometimes difficult for us to grasp, especially in relation to the internal workings of the human body.
Asian medicine is rooted in both Taoist and Buddhist philosophy. The most influential are the Taoist concepts of balance and the Buddhist philosophy that the exterior and interior (microcosm/macrocosm), all being part of the same natural world, share similar natural characteristics. Oriental medicine uses terms that to the western mind that, at first, may seem more appropriate for describing the weather in the exterior environment than the interior workings of the human body.
Put in context it makes complete sense. There were no modern diagnostics back then – no MRI, X-ray, Blood test, probably not even a thermometer to measure body temperature. This idea that the interior and exterior shared the same natural phenomena helped these ancient practitioners discover very practical ways to treat pain and disease. Oriental medicine today reflects the combined practical knowledge passed down from clinician to clinician for the last 3-5k years.
Eight principles of diagnosis: Interior/Exterior; Cold/Hot; Excess/Deficiency; Yin/Yang. These are the foundational elements or principles of diagnosis in Oriental Medicine
We also speak of other pathogenic influence like dampness, causing swelling and pain or a foggy-ness of mind or heat drying the tendons or joints, causing red or burning pain, cold causing tightness in muscles and joints or yang energy rising to the head, causing headaches because the yin or blood may not be strong enough to root the yang.
As it relates to pain – Pain is considered a stagnation or interruption in the free-flow of Qi and/or blood. There is an ancient saying – “when there is stagnation there is pain, when there is pain there is stagnation”. This stagnation can be from an internal or external source. For example cold weather invades the exterior of the body. Cold by its nature causes constriction, a tightening of the tissues this causes the qi to not move freely – pain is the result. Internal cold whether from deficiency or excess causes the same constriction. This cold pain has specific signs and symptoms. These signs and symptoms differ from pain caused by other factors.
As I stated earlier, there are many factors relative to each individual’s pain. They can include the eight principles in combination with others like dampness or dryness, the quality of ones blood and its ability to nourish ones joints, emotional factors, menstrual history, lifestyle, diet, history of trauma, etc, etc. All these factors and more are part of this detailed system of relationships that we utilize to discover all the components of the imbalance and to then work to bring the system back to balance at the root to alleviate the pain permanently.