Skip to content

Pain

How to Treat Tennis Elbow With Acupuncture and TCM

Share

By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

tennis elbow
Tennis elbow can happen to athletes and manual laborers alike.

Pain in outer elbow or burning sensation in forearm? Tennis Elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is a pain condition caused by overuse or repetitive movements of the arm and wrist. Acupuncture and TCM can provide help with healing the muscles and tendons of the elbow and providing elbow pain relief of tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, or tendonitis, so you can get back to your usual activities.

“Tennis elbow” gets its name from the fact that many people get this type of repetitive use injury from playing tennis and other sports that involve holding a racquet. But tennis elbow doesn’t only occur in athletes; it’s also common among people who have to perform repetitive movements that tax the muscles and tendons of the elbow, forearm, wrist, and hand and involve gripping an object, such as: painting, hammering and sawing (construction workers), cutting or chopping (cooks, chefs, butchers), using a wrench (plumbers), or working on an assembly line.

Tennis elbow is a kind of tendonitis, or inflammation of the soft tissues of the forearm. Tendonitis occurs when the soft tissues that attach muscles to bones sustain microtears and become inflamed. The major muscle involved in movements where the wrist and hand are gripping an object while the elbow is extending, or straightening, is the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle. The ECRB muscle experiences friction as it moves over the bumpy joining of three bones in the elbow joint. Over time, and with overuse, the tendons that attach the ECRB to the bones can become torn and/or inflamed.

Tennis elbow pain is usually centered right in the outer side of the elbow, and just below the joint, but it can also radiate further down the arm and into the wrist. There might be a burning sensation in the muscle on the outer forearm. Pain and weakness in the elbow and wrist can make it difficult to perform regular actions like holding a cup or using a computer mouse.

Golfer’s elbow is a similar condition in that it is also an overuse injury that causes weakness and pain in the forearm. The difference is that with golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, the inflammation and microtearing occur in the muscles and tendons involved in flexing the arm rather than extending it, or bending the wrist inward towards the palm with a lot of force or speed. These are located on the inner part of the elbow and forearm. This type of repetitive use condition can be the result of swinging a golf club, throwing a baseball, hitting a forceful spin serve in tennis, but also such activities as shovelling, using a heavy tool like an axe or chainsaw, or even just carrying a heavy suitcase with your hand and wrist wrapped around the handle.

Tennis elbow pain can be resolved with rest, but for many people, complete rest is not a feasible or desirable option. Acupuncture treatment has been shown to help provide significant pain relief for tennis elbow. Acupuncture treatment can help to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow to injured areas to aid and speed healing of various types of tendonitis.

Top 5 Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

elbow pain forearm pain
Pain in the outer elbow or forearm pain are signs of tennis elbow.

Signs of tennis elbow usually develop slowly over time and are not caused by any obvious single injury. 

  1. Elbow pain or pain on the outside of the forearm, burning sensation in the outer part of elbow, stiff elbow
  2. Pain that radiates down to the wrist, wrist pain, stiff wrist
  3. Stiffness of the elbow, especially first thing in the morning
  4. Weak grip strength, reduced grip strength
  5. More severe pain when gripping an object, like a mug or racquet

Symptoms of golfer’s elbow are similar, except that the pain is located on the inner side of the elbow or forearm, as opposed to the outer side. Pain is more likely to radiate to the fourth and fifth fingers (ring finger and pinky finger) than to the wrist. You may feel pain when making a fist.

Wrist pain, tingling in the fingers, and weak grip strength can also be signs of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Medical Treatment for Tennis Elbow

The standard treatment for Tennis Elbow begins with rest, icing, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs like Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen) to reduce pain and swelling. If the pain persists, or perhaps if a person is not able to avoid the activities that are causing the inflammation, doctors may recommend wearing a brace and may administer steroid injections. 

Surgical treatment for tennis elbow is relatively rare and only recommended in cases where rest and pain management medications are not working. An arthroscopic procedure to remove damaged and scarred tissue can help repair the muscles and tendons, but there is usually a long recovery time after the surgery.

A newer form of treatment for chronic tendon pain and inflammation is the F.A.S.T. procedure (Focused Aspiration of Scar Tissue). This is a less invasive procedure that uses ultrasound imaging and ultrasonic technology to remove tiny bits of damaged tissue without any incisions. Recovery time after this procedure is much shorter than with regular tennis elbow surgery.

While pharmacological treatment for pain may help to reduce immediate suffering, medications like NSAIDs and steroid injections come with significant side effects, even if they aren’t immediately apparent. Using these kinds of medications long-term to alleviate chronic pain can take their toll, sometimes causing gastrointestinal distress, weight gain, sleep problems, and other side effects that have a negative impact on overall health. Acupuncture treatment can act as an analgesic to relieve pain without any negative side effects. In fact, the side effects of acupuncture treatment are usually beneficial, including increased circulation, immune function, and stress relief.

Can Acupuncture Treat Tennis Elbow?

TCM massage pain relief
TCM massage can relieve tennis elbow pain.

The treatment of chronic pain and inflammation with TCM goes back for many centuries. We use acupuncture and other methods to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation related to shoulder pain, knee pain, hip pain, neck pain, sprained ankle, and foot pain. TCM uses a variety of modalities to treat orthopedic pain conditions, including: acupuncture treatment, electro-acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, Tui Na massage, exercise, and Chinese herbs in formulations for both internal (tea or pills) and external (pain patches) use. This multi-pronged approach can be very effective for reducing pain in the short term, while helping tissues to heal over time.

A controlled study in which patients suffering from lateral epicondylitis were divided into three groups and treated with either massage or acupuncture, or a combination of both, showed that patients who received the combination treatment experienced, for the most part, a complete recovery after twenty sessions.

Another controlled study that compared people suffering from chronic tennis elbow who were treated with real acupuncture versus sham acupuncture showed that at both the two week mark and the two month mark, people who had received acupuncture reported less pain and improved function of the arm joints.

Exercises and Pressure Points for Tennis Elbow Pain Prevention

tennis elbow exercises
Working with a flex bar can help improve grip strength.

If you are already experiencing tennis elbow pain or signs of golfer’s elbow, you may need to take some time off from sports or make accommodations to your work in order to rest the muscles and tendons of the forearm. Resting the arm is important for allowing inflammation to go down. Once you’re able to start exercising again, try these home remedies for tennis elbow that will help to prevent tendon problems in the future:

  1. To prevent repetitive stress conditions like tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow when playing sports, be sure to always warm up before playing and cool down afterwards. Practice your form, with a trainer if warranted, so that you know your technique is good and not contributing to pain or injury. Check your sports equipment regularly to make sure everything is in good condition and the right size and balance for you.
  2. Pressure points for tennis elbow: If you are experiencing pain in the elbow and forearm, you might try using this acupressure point to help tennis elbow pain: LI11 (Large Intestine Meridian 11) – located right in the crevice of the elbow crease, applying pressure to this point can help move Qi and blood through the joint and bring relief from tennis elbow pain. This point is also helpful for clearing heat and cooling you down after exercise, so it’s a good one to use right after a game or when you finish work.
  3. Exercises for Tennis Elbow – practicing gentle exercises that strengthen the muscles of the wrist and forearm can help prevent pain and tissue damage. Using light dumbbells or a flex bar can help with grip strength.

Acupuncture Near Me for Tennis Elbow on the Westside of Los Angeles

Whether you are an avid tennis player, or someone who works hard doing physical labor, elbow pain from lateral epicondylitis can really cramp your style. Athletes and active people of all ages need to take care of their bodies appropriately so as to avoid injuries that can lead to chronic pain. Adding acupuncture to your health regimen is a great way of providing basic maintenance for your body. Acupuncture treatment, therapeutic massage, and a good nutrition program can all help you keep your joints moving smoothly, without pain. At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience in helping to relieve orthopedic and musculoskeletal pain conditions.

 

 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

Share

How to Treat Toothaches With Acupuncture and TCM

Share

By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

toothache tooth pain
Acupuncture can help relieve tooth pain and dental anxiety.

Sharp tooth pain, toothache, or throbbing pain in teeth usually means you need to see the dentist. The pain of dental work often necessitates the use of anesthetics, while post-operative pain from dental surgery is usually treated with over the counter pain medications or opioid painkillers. Acupuncture offers an alternative way of dealing with dental pain and can also relieve the dental anxiety many people experience when they have to have dental work done.

Oral pain makes it hard to eat, hard to talk, hard to even think straight. Mouth pain felt in relation to problems with the teeth, or a hurting tooth, is often nerve pain that may be sharp in one place, or radiate to other parts of your face and head. Acupuncture acts upon the neurotransmitters that carry signals between parts of the body and the brain, helping to block pain sensations and relieving tooth pain. 

Different types of mouth pain, not necessarily related to dental problems or the teeth, can also be alleviated by acupuncture, including TMJ jaw pain, clicking or locking of the jaw, tension from grinding teeth, and dry mouth (xerostomia). Myofascial pain, pain in the muscles of the face, and migraines that cause pain in the neck and side of the head can also be helped with acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture and herbs do not replace the need for regular dental visits or necessary dental procedures. However, TCM methods, used in conjunction with good oral hygiene, can help to promote the development of strong teeth in children, and the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums in adults. TCM treatments help improve immune function, as well, which can help prevent mouth infections.

While dentists have a variety of anesthetics they can use to help reduce pain during dental procedures, many people find the injection of anesthetic to be painful and anxiety-inducing in and of itself. There are definitely downsides to the pain relief offered during dental visits, so much so that many people avoid going to the dentist, or at the very least wish there was some alternative form of anesthesia. Recently, there is growing interest and research to show that acupuncture can be an effective means of providing pain relief before, during, and after dental procedures.

It is estimated that up to 30% of people report feeling dental anxiety, while about 10% of patients experience dental phobia. Acupuncture has been shown to help produce a clinically significant decrease in feelings of anxiety or fear of going to the dentist.

Managing Dental Pain

dental pain dental anxiety
Acupuncture can help reduce the need for dental anesthesia.

It is common to experience pain while you are waiting to get into the dentist for a toothache caused by a broken filling or because a crown has fallen out. Most dental pain is usually managed with non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), also known as OTC pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. However, some people cannot tolerate the regular use of these medicines, as they can cause damage to the lining of the stomach.

Different types of anesthesia used during dental work include: 

  • local anesthetics (lidocaine, articaine, etc.), which numb the area where a tooth is being worked on 
  • sedation (nitrous oxide gas, Valium, Versed, etc.), which helps relax the patient
  • general anesthesia, which means a patient is rendered unconscious for the duration of the dental procedure

Pain after oral surgery is most often treated with over the counter analgesics like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but severe dental pain may be treated with opioid painkillers. Dentists in the U.S. are far more likely to prescribe opioid pain medications than they do in other countries. Dentists are also more likely to prescribe long-acting opioids, and to prescribe opioids for a longer period of time. The growing numbers of people addicted to opioids in America is largely due to over-prescription of these drugs. TCM methods like acupuncture can relieve a toothache and reduce post-operative pain and bleeding without side effects or risk of dependence.

Can Acupuncture Help Tooth Pain?

Acupuncture treatment has an analgesic effect, reducing pain and inflammation of all kinds. Acupuncture not only offers natural pain relief for toothache, but can also help reduce bleeding during dental procedures such as tooth extractions.

A controlled study that compared two groups of patients have teeth extracted, one group treated with articaine hydrochloride injections and the other groups treated with acupuncture needles, found that pain relief was comparable between the anesthesia and acupuncture groups, while bleeding was less amongst those patients given acupuncture.

In addition to helping with pain and bleeding during and after a dental procedure, many people find it helpful to come in and have an acupuncture treatment just prior to their dental appointment in order to help alleviate anxiety. Acupuncture may also help to reduce a person’s gag reflex, which can be easily triggered during fittings for orthodontic devices, or impressions.

With acupuncture treatment, we can also effectively treat dental anxiety, allowing for patients to feel more relaxed going into their dental appointment and feel less pain during and after a dental procedure.

Top 3 Pressure Points to Help Tooth Pain

acupressure point LI4 for tension-type headaches
Acupressure point LI4 is helpful for both headaches and toothaches.

Acupressure has been shown to help reduce anxiety, gag reflex, and the need for dental injections for pain during fittings for prosthetics. Specific points on the head and face, in particular, can help relieve toothache and swelling.

If you are experiencing acute tooth pain, plan to see your dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, using these acupressure points for toothaches can help you stay calm and alleviate the pain until you can get treatment.

  1. ST6, Stomach Meridian Point 6, is located in the cheek, equidistant between the corner of the mouth and the earlobe. Apply pressure to the jaw muscle here to help relieve toothache and jaw pain.
  2. SI18, Small Intestine Meridian Point 18, is right in the cheek hollow, perpendicular to the corner of the eye and outside of the nose. Apply pressure to this point to help relieve tooth pain and swollen gums.
  3. LI4, Large Intestine Meridian Point 4, is located in the webbing between the thumb and index finger. Squeeze with firm pressure here. Often used to relieve headaches, but this point helps tooth pain, as well.

Acupuncture Near Me for Tooth Pain on the Westside of Los Angeles

No one likes going to the dentist. However, if you have a hurting tooth but you’ve been avoiding the dentist out of fear, or if you know you have to have some major work done, and you are dreading it, please consider scheduling an acupuncture appointment before your next dentist appointment. Discover for yourself how acupuncture can help relieve dental anxiety and post-procedural dental pain. You may find you feel much more relaxed about the whole thing, and herbs and acupuncture can help staunch bleeding and speed recovery after dental work.

 

 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

Share

How to Treat Hip Pain With Acupuncture and TCM

Share

By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

hip pain arthritis sciatica
Hip pain due to osteoarthritis can lead to loss of mobility.

Are you suffering from hip pain symptoms like lower back and hip pain on one side, pain in buttocks shooting down leg, hip pain at night, or hip pain when walking? Several different conditions can cause pain in the hip or pain in the buttocks that radiates down the leg. It could be hip pain due to bursitis or arthritis, or related to sciatic nerve pain or piriformis syndrome. TCM and acupuncture treatment can help relieve pain in the hip, buttocks, and lower back.

The hip joint is very complex; it’s made up of a ball-and-socket bone structure with almost 30 different muscles and tendons surrounding it. Hip pain is common, especially among older adults, although people of any age can be affected by pain in the hip, buttocks, or lower back. It can be difficult to pinpoint the causes of hip pain, as there are many different possible reasons for hip pain, and the aching sensation can move from place to place, or suddenly become more intense. The hip pain location, the quality of the pain, and when it happens can tell us a lot about what is causing pain in the buttock or hip area, so it is important to pay close attention to the type of hip pain. For example, is it sudden hip pain? Hip pain gets worse at night? Is the hip pain worse after sitting for long periods?

What does arthritis in the hip pain feel like? Hip pain that develops slowly over a period of time may be due to osteoarthritis. Other signs of osteoarthritis of the hip include:

  • Hip pain worse in the morning, feel better after moving around. 
  • Grinding sensation, ache, stiffness, soreness, sometimes, hip feels locked up. 
  • Hip pain that gets worse when start to exercise, but usually gets  better once warm up, and worse again after excessive exercise. 
  • Pain that goes from the hip down to the knee or across the back

This is the type of arthritic hip pain that comes on with age and many years of use, as the cartilage that cushions the hip joint wears down over time. Osteoarthritis of the hip can be more painful when it rains. Left untreated, hip osteoarthritis can cause people to lose mobility and even walk with a limp.

Sharp hip pain or tenderness when you lie on your side or sit down may be due to hip bursitis. 

  • Hip pain worse at night
  • Hip pain stiff when getting  up
  • Difficulty walking, hard to squat or sit
  • General ache all over the back, groin, hip area

Bursitis is inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning around large joints like the hip. The outer part of the hip bone is topped by the trochanteric bursa; when this bursa becomes inflamed, due to a bump or fall, overuse, or some other injury, it can cause pain on the outside of the hip or buttock area. 

Gradually worsening hip pain, or feeling stiff and sore in the morning can be a sign of hip flexor tendonitis or tendinitis of the hip. This is caused by inflammation of the tendons and connective tissues in the hip, usually due to high intensity sports activities.

A shooting pain that seems to radiate down from the hip to the leg and even the foot is often a sign of sciatica, a kind of nerve pain. The sciatic nerves extend from the lower spine and branch out into the buttocks and down the legs. When the sciatic nerve is compressed, it can cause numbness, tingling, pins and needles, or radiating pain to shoot from the buttock down one leg. Other sciatica symptoms can include: 

  • intermittent pain that comes and goes 
  • weakness in one leg 
  • sharp pain that feels like a jolt
  • burning pain in buttock, burning pain in one leg
  • pain that is worse when bending or standing

Sciatic pain can happen due to impingement or a pinched nerve from a herniated disk in the lower spine (lumbar herniated disk), or other spinal problems like spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine that compresses nerves) or spondylolisthesis (slipped disc). 

Radiating pain in the buttock that is similar to sciatic pain can also be caused by problems with the soft tissues of the buttock, especially the piriformis muscle. Inflammation, spasms, or tightness in the piriformis muscle can cause compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs just underneath, or in some cases, through the piriformis. This condition is known as piriformis syndrome.

hip joint ball and socket joint
Ball and socket hip joint

Moderate hip pain is usually treated with medications and/or injections to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, along with perhaps a referral to physical therapy (PT) to help strengthen the muscles of the hip. Severe hip pain that persists beyond treatment with PT and medication may lead to surgery as a last resort. In many cases, TCM methods including acupuncture can help relieve the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis, sciatica, bursitis, tendonitis, and other causes of hip pain, without the side effects of medications or complications of hip surgery.

Top 10 Hip Pain Causes

Pain in the hip and buttock on one side, pain in the butt, or hip pain can be related to one or more of a variety of conditions affecting the hip joint, the lumbar spine, or the soft tissues of the hip and buttock area. Causes of hip pain can include:

  1. Arthritis hip pain or Osteoarthritis of the hip – arthritis is a general term for joint pain. Pain in the hip joint can occur due to constant wear-and-tear over the course of many years, leading to inflammation in the hip joint and the breakdown of cartilage.
  2. Bursitis outer hip pain – swelling and inflammation of the hip bursae
  3. Sciatica in hip – nerve pain due to compression of the sciatic nerve
  4. Piriformis syndrome – inflamed or tight muscles in the buttocks compress the sciatic nerve, causing pain or numbness in the buttock, hip, and leg
  5. Hip Tendonitis – trauma or use injury to the connective tissues of the hip joint
  6. Sacroiliac joint pain or SI joint pain – the sacroiliac joints connect the hip bones to the lower spine and tailbone. This joint is designed to move subtly; too much or too little movement can cause dysfunction and pain across the low back and hips. It is fairly common for women to experience some SI joint pain (and also sciatica) during pregnancy.
  7. Muscle strain – if one of the large muscles that makes up the hip joint is stretched past its usual range of motion, hip strain can cause pain and swelling. This can happen during normal daily activities, but most often happens during sports or exercise, possibly if someone has not warmed up adequately. 
  8. Hip dysplasia or Dislocated hip – some people are born with anatomical abnormalities of the hip joint, when the socket part of the joint doesn’t fully fit around the ball part. This can lead to instability in the hip, dislocation of the hip, damage to cartilage, pain in the groin and hip, and higher risk of osteoarthritis.
  9. Hip fracture – fractures in the hip are common among older people, women especially.  A hairline hip fracture or broken hip may cause a vague pain in the lower back, pain in groin, or pain down the leg or knee pain. Hip fractures can lead to other serious problems, like blood clots, infections like UTIs, or pneumonia. 
  10. Hip Labral Tear – a labrum is a piece of cartilage that absorbs shock and helps the functioning of the major joints of the body in various ways. You may have heard of a labral tear in the shoulder that causes shoulder pain; hip labral tear is similar. This could mean overall degeneration of the cartilage, or the labrum becoming detached from the bone, or the formation of a cyst around the area. Injury to the labrum of the hip can cause pain deep in the groin. 

How Is Hip Pain Treated?

Hip pain is usually treated initially with anti-inflammatory pain relief medications like NSAIDs. Cortisone injections may also be recommended for conditions like bursitis or hip tendonitis. While cortisone shots for hip pain may help relieve pain in the short-term, repeated injections can cause damage to the area. Cortisone can also raise blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for people who have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes or metabolic syndrome. 

total hip replacement surgery
Total hip replacement surgery is on the rise.

Arthroscopic surgical techniques allow orthopedic surgeons to operate on the hip joint in a minimally-invasive way. This may be done to repair a torn labrum or remove loose cartilage. More complex surgery may be indicated to repair hip dysplasia or serious degeneration due to osteoarthritis. Hip replacement surgery is becoming more common, with over 450,000 total hip replacements currently being performed each year in the U.S. While many people are able to get relief from chronic hip pain through hip replacement, it is a major decision, and there are significant risks involved, including: infections, fractures that occur during the surgery, nerve damage, etc. The risk of blood clots after a hip replacement necessitates taking blood thinners. Even under the best circumstances, the prosthetics that are implanted during a hip replacement do not last forever, and some people may have to have a second operation to replace the replacement.

Acupuncture treatment can help to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain in the hip due to osteoarthritis and other complaints, without the risks of long-term pain medication use.

Can Acupuncture Help Hip Pain?

According to TCM theory, arthritis of the hip is considered a Bi Syndrome, a condition in which stagnation of blood and Qi (life force energy) causes pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints. Cold, wind, and heat are pathogenic factors that cause the blockage of energy moving freely through parts of the body. Imbalances in the organs, such as the kidneys, gallbladder, spleen, and stomach can also contribute to Bi Syndrome hip pain. Standard approaches that seek to alleviate pain do not help treat the problem at the source. A TCM practitioner can address the root source of the blockage and pain with acupuncture and herbal supplementation.

Sciatica nerve pain that affects the buttock, hip, and leg is also considered to be a Bi Syndrome condition, and is due to obstructions in the flow of Qi through the gallbladder and bladder meridians. Acupuncture treatment helps relieve nerve pain by acting as an analgesic, reducing pain signals and increasing the production of endorphins in the body, while reducing inflammation in the surrounding tissues and helping the nerves to heal.

One study of patients suffering sciatic pain who were treated with TCM found that acupuncture alone had an 81.6% efficacy rate for reducing pain symptoms, while acupuncture combined with herbs was 95% effective. A follow-up with patients who had been treated with acupuncture for sciatica related to herniated disc showed that people had experienced long-term positive results.

Tendonitis of the hip and hip bursitis are inflammatory conditions that can also be helped with acupuncture and herbs. A review of acupuncture treatment for pain related to herniated disc concluded that TCM methods worked better than pain medication or traction therapy.

An experienced TCM practitioner will also be able to help you with making changes in your diet and exercise programs that will reduce inflammation while strengthening both your Qi and the muscles of your lower back and hip joints.

Top 5 Tips for Hip Pain

weight lift hip pain low back pain
Lifting weights can help strengthen the lower back and muscles of the hip.

Here are some steps you can take to get rid of hip pain and prevent it from coming back, in addition to getting acupuncture treatment and taking Chinese herbs:

  1. If lower back pain and hip pain is due to sciatic nerve pain, pinched nerves, or disc problems/herniated disk, it is still important to keep moving your body. Too much time in bed can actually do more harm than good. When exercising, be sure to warm up adequately. Take things slowly, and listen to your body. Vary your exercise to include gentle movement modalities like Tai Qi, which emphasize rotation of the joints. Strength training, working out with weights, is also great to strengthen the major muscle groups that support the back and hips.
  2. Some conditions, such as a hip labral tear, muscle strain in the hip, or fractured hip, may require rest to heal. It can be difficult to take time out for healing in our modern fast-paced culture, but do your best to use this time to rest well, work on a meditation practice, and make your health your top priority.
  3. Don’t keep your phone or wallet in your back pocket. This creates imbalance and puts pressure on one side of the hip and pelvis. 
  4. Be sure that your sleeping position helps to reduce stress on the lower back. Using a bolster under your knees may help. Mattresses should be medium-firm.
  5. Weight management, or losing weight, can help to take a lot of stress off of the joints. An anti-inflammatory diet (avoid spicy foods, and nightshade vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant) will also help.

Acupuncture Near Me for Hip Pain

Hip pain is not something to ignore. Healthy hip joints are vital to continued mobility and quality of life. Sadly, it is well-known that a fractured hip often means the end of an active life for an older person. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you or someone you love is noticing hip pain interfering with life, it may be the time to treat hip pain with acupuncture and herbs. Adding an acupuncturist to your healthcare team for integrative care can make all the difference.

 

 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

 

Share

How to Treat Herpes Simplex With Acupuncture and TCM

Share

By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac. Ph.D.

Cold sores on the mouth or around the genitals are signs of herpes simplex.

Cold sores around mouth, blisters on lips? Burning, itching sores around the genital area? Herpes simplex is a skin disorder caused by one of two viral infections: HSV-1 or HSV-2. TCM methods, including acupuncture and herbs, can help clear up a painful herpes outbreak and prevent herpes simplex outbreaks in the future.

Herpes simplex is one of the most common kinds of infectious disease, affecting several billions of people worldwide. It is estimated that about 66% of the world’s population has had a HSV-1 infection at some point in their lives. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is the viral infection that is associated with oral herpes or orolabial herpes–the one that causes sores around the mouth, often referred to as “cold sores” or “fever blisters.” Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is the kind that causes genital herpes. Herpes virus is related to varicella-zoster viruses, the viruses that cause Chickenpox and Shingles.

How do you get herpes? The skin infection caused by herpes simplex spreads from person to person through close contact. HSV-1, or oral herpes, can spread through sharing utensils, toothbrushes, or towels, or by touching one of the mouth sores, or kissing. HSV-2, or genital herpes, is usually spread through sexual contact is therefore considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD). In fact, either one of the two viral infections can cause sores on the mouth or genital area, or even on other parts of the body. If oral herpes, or HSV-1, gets into the eyes, it can cause serious damage, even causing scarring or permanent loss of vision.

A person can pass herpes to another person even if they aren’t having an active outbreak with visible sores. A pregnant woman can pass the herpes virus to her baby during birth, and the virus can also be passed during breastfeeding. Once a person has been infected with HSV-2, the virus stays in the body and can lie dormant, then resurface in periodic recurrent outbreaks.

Initially, herpes skin disorders manifest in the skin cells, causing the red, painful, blister-like sores. After a while, the infection moves deeper, into the nerve cells, where it can lie dormant until something happens to activate it again, like an illness or stressful life event.

Medical treatment for herpes simplex focuses on minimizing the pain of an outbreak of sores and attempting to prevent future outbreaks with antiviral medications. People who have genital herpes must take care to practice safe sex and avoid sex during outbreaks in order to prevent spreading herpes to their partners. People with herpes can suffer from depression brought on by the knowledge that they may have to live with this highly contagious viral infection for the rest of their lives, and with the danger of possibly transmitting herpes simplex to others with whom they are intimate.

Fortunately, TCM herbs and acupuncture offer an alternative medicine option for dealing with herpes simplex. TCM can help with quick healing of the burning sores that signify an outbreak, but can also work on a deeper level to strengthen the immune system so that it can fight the virus better from within.

Top 5 Symptoms of Herpes Simplex

Signs of a herpes simplex infection depend on which type of viral infection you have, and where the infection spreads. Usually, symptoms manifest either around the mouth or genital area, but sometimes the herpes virus can spread to the eyes (herpes keratitis). The most common symptoms of herpes include:

  1. Itching, burning, tingling around the mouth or genital area
  2. Painful, fluid-filled blisters or sores around the mouth or genital area
  3. Flu-like symptoms: fever, body aches, swollen glands
  4. Trouble urinating, burning sensation when peeing
  5. Pain in eyes, cloudy vision

Once a person has had their first symptomatic period of a herpes infection, they may have recurrence of symptoms periodically–in some cases, frequently. The majority of people who have been infected with HSV-2 experience another outbreak within a year; some people experience recurrent outbreaks several times a year or as often as once a month.

There are a few other skin conditions that might sometimes be mistaken for herpes simplex. Impetigo is a bacterial infection that can cause red sores to form around the mouth and nose. “Jock itch” is a fungal infection that can cause a red rash in the groin area. Folliculitis is when hair follicles become inflamed and form pimples with pus; this can happen in the facial or genital region due to shaving, but it can also be related to herpes, if the viral infection causes irritation and blockages in the hair follicles. Molluscum contagiosum is another viral skin infection that causes raised lesions to form; however, they are generally painless and flesh-colored, not similar to herpes lesions. Bacterial vaginosis, a common bacterial infection which can cause a burning sensation in the vagina, may increase a woman’s chances of getting herpes and other STDs.

What Triggers a Herpes Outbreak?

The herpes virus is similar to the varicella virus (chickenpox) in that it stays in the body long after the initial infection, and can flare up and cause trouble later on. The varicella virus can lie dormant for many years, and then emerge as a case of Shingles late in life, causing a very painful rash.

herpes simplex outbreak
Exposure to sunlight can trigger a herpes outbreak

Herpes can cause rare or frequent outbreaks, depending on the severity of the initial infection, how or if it was treated, and what sort of care a person takes to prevent recurrences. A person who has experienced recurrent outbreaks may become aware of early signs that show up a few days before sores actually break out on the skin, such as tingling or shooting pain in the genital area or around the hips or legs. 

The things that can trigger a herpes simplex outbreaks include:

  • Illness, fever
  • Suppression or weakness of the immune system
  • Exposure to sunlight, changes of the season or temperature
  • Menstrual period, hormonal changes
  • Prolonged period of stress, emotional stress
  • Surgery, trauma

Medical Treatment for Herpes Simplex

The typical treatment for herpes simplex HSV-1 and HSV-2 includes the use of antiviral medications such as acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex). These medications may be taken intermittently, to help treat outbreaks when they occur, or, in some cases, may be recommended for daily usage to help prevent outbreaks from occurring. For some people, these medications help to reduce the frequency of outbreaks, and there is some evidence that they may help prevent a person’s sexual partner from being infected. However, these antiviral medications do not help everyone who has herpes simplex. They can only reduce the spread of the virus in the body; they do not eliminate it completely. Some people may become allergic or resistant to the drugs. Some people experience side effects, including potentially serious kidney problems or unusual bleeding. 

TCM treatment with herbs and acupuncture can help to reduce the severity of herpes outbreaks and prevent recurrence, without any negative side effects.

Can Acupuncture Help Herpes?

From the TCM point of view, the redness and burning of the blister-like rash that accompanies viral infections like herpes and varicella is caused by heat and dampness. Clearing heat and damp from the liver and gallbladder will usually be one of the primary goals of acupuncture treatment and herbal supplementation, as this will help to quickly cool down an outbreak of the painful sores. Maintaining the health and balance of the liver system long-term will help to prevent future outbreaks. 

TCM also factors in emotional well-being when considering each individual’s presentation of a disease. The flare up of herpes simplex viral infection is associated with stress and negative emotions, especially anger. Anger is connected to the Liver and Gallbladder, and also to the eyes, which is why sometimes the herpes skin disorder will manifest in the eyes. Learning lifestyle behaviors and dietary choices that will help to balance the emotions and reduce excess heat in the body will also help reduce the occurrence of herpes flare ups.

Chinese herbs herpes
Herbs can help relieve herpes simplex outbreaks.

Some herbal formulations work well to heal sores related to herpes outbreak. There are also specific Chinese herbs that function as “antivirals.” These herbs can help control the virus in the body, which, when combined with treatment and herbs that strengthen the immune system, can be effective at reducing the risk of recurrent outbreaks of herpes.

Acupuncture Near Me for Herpes Simplex

While herpes simplex is often considered a disease one has to “learn to live with,” it is not necessary to suffer the pain and emotional burden of herpes simplex infection without relief. Alternative medicine for herpes in the form of acupuncture and herbs offers a holistic treatment option that can help relieve the physical symptoms of recurrent herpes outbreaks as well as associated mental and emotional struggles with shame, anxiety, depression, and relationship concerns. Boosting the immune system, strengthening the Qi and organ systems, reducing heat through proper nutrition, and relieving stress can all work to help people with herpes live free of the fear of the next outbreak.

 

 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

Share

How to Treat Musculoskeletal Pain With Acupuncture and TCM

Share

By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.

musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia
Widespread musculoskeletal pain that moves around may be a sign of fibromyalgia.

Do you experience unexplained pain all over the body? Muscle pain and tenderness, along with feeling tired all the time and having mood issues? Widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue or feeling exhausted may be a sign you have fibromyalgia. Alternative medicine methods like Acupuncture and TCM offer a way to help ease the chronic pain, sleep problems, and emotional disturbances caused by fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia (sometimes referred to as “fibro” or FM) is one of the most common chronic pain conditions worldwide, affecting an estimated 10 million people in the United States alone. Still, this chronic condition is still not well understood by medical science. There are no definitive tests to show whether or not fibromyalgia is the cause of pain all over the body along with chronic fatigue, so many people go on having musculoskeletal problems and hurting all over without being diagnosed or treated. There are many people who have fibromyalgia who also suffer from depression and anxiety related to the illness. Fibromyalgia can dramatically impact a person’s quality of life. While people of ages and genders can have fibromyalgia, it is much more prevalent among women.

Fibromyalgia is considered to be a syndrome: a collection of symptoms that often occur together. Fibromyalgia is associated with other conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). It may coexist with these other chronic conditions, or sometimes be mistaken for one of them. However, fibromyalgia is now understood by medical professionals to be its own distinct condition with specific manifestations.

People who have RA have been shown to have an increased risk for also having fibromyalgia. But the quality and location of the musculoskeletal pain differentiates the two conditions. The pain of fibromyalgia shows up in the musculoskeletal system in the areas where there are large muscles, causing pain that may move around throughout the torso, back, hips, thighs and arms. Fibromyalgia pain is often described as a kind of “tenderness,” or when the body aches all over. “Tender points” all over the body are specific to fibromyalgia. This is different from arthritis, which generally causes swelling and pain in the joints. Both RA and lupus are understood to be caused by inflammation, while fibromyalgia is believed to be caused by a problem with the central nervous system (CNS), in which pain signals are amplified, causing extreme sensitivity and pain, even when there is no seeming reason for that area of the body to feel pain.

Some of the fibromyalgia symptoms are very similar to those of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), which is also known as chronic fatigue (CFS). As with RA and lupus, the two conditions can overlap. The difference is that the overwhelming symptoms of ME/CFS are related to fatigue or post-exertional malaise (PEM), while the predominant symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread muscle pain and tenderness. 

Fibromyalgia seems to show up in some people due to a traumatic or triggering event. There can then be a fibromyalgia flare up due to the presence of other triggers later.

Fortunately, acupuncture, herbs, and other forms of alternative medicine that fall under TCM can approach all of the different symptoms of fibromyalgia holistically. Acupuncture is widely accepted to be effective for helping musculoskeletal conditions of all kinds, as well as neurological problems, rheumatological conditions, sleep issues, and emotional and mental health disorders.

Top 10 Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Pain

fatigue, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia
Fatigue and insomnia are symptoms of fibromyalgia.

As a syndrome, fibromyalgia may manifest as any combination of a few or several of a variety of symptoms. The most common symptoms of fibromyalgia include:

  1. Widespread musculoskeletal pain: pain, tenderness, and/or stiffness in the muscles all over the body that may come and go or migrate from one area to another
  2. Fatigue, exhaustion, extreme tiredness
  3. Emotional and/or mental issues: depression, anxiety, PTSD
  4. Sleep problems, insomnia
  5. Cognitive issues: difficulty concentrating, memory problems, “fibro fog”
  6. Headaches, migraines
  7. Neuropathy: tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet
  8. TMJ, jaw pain
  9. Digestive problems: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), abdominal pain, bloating
  10. Bladder pain, interstitial cystitis

Other more subtle signs of fibromyalgia can include: itching all over, a skin crawling sensation (like bugs crawling on skin), extra sensitivity to smells or temperature, a tendency to shiver, or dry eyes or eye pain.

Top 5 Causes Musculoskeletal Pain Flares

The symptoms of fibromyalgia tend to come and go. Some days a person might feel almost totally fine, then other days, the fibromyalgia flares, causing more pain, exhaustion, and sometimes other symptoms. What triggers a fibromyalgia flare up? 

  1. Hormonal changes during menstrual cycle, miscarriage, pregnancy, or postpartum
  2. Prolonged stress
  3. A sudden traumatic event, PTSD trigger, panic attack
  4. Changes in weather: temperature, humidity, barometric pressure
  5. Lack of sleep

When one of the 18 tender points of fibromyalgia is touched, it can trigger more widespread pain. These points include areas like: the front and sides of the neck, the base of the skull, the elbow, and the backs of the knees.

What Is the Treatment for Fibromyalgia?

Medical treatment for fibromyalgia typically involves a combination of medicine to alleviate pain with psychological support and lifestyle management. Drugs like Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella are approved for prescription for patients with fibromyalgia. Lyrica and Cymbalta are also used to treat conditions that involve nerve damage or nerve pain, like diabetes, neuropathy, shingles, while Savella works in a way that is similar to antidepressants. Other pain relievers and/or antidepressant medications may also be prescribed to help people manage pain of fibromyalgia, help them sleep better, and boost mood. All of these medications can come with unwanted side effects, and they do not help to relieve pain in every case.

People with FM pain will often receive counseling on how to manage their condition by being very careful not to exert themselves or become exhausted. Getting quality sleep and reducing stress can help to prevent fibro flare up. It can be hard for people to follow guidelines that ask them to make major lifestyle changes. Fortunately, acupuncture, herbs, and the patient support of a TCM practitioner can offer more help for people with fibromyalgia.

Acupuncture for Musculoskeletal Pain

Can acupuncture help fibromyalgia? Yes. TCM offers a comprehensive system for managing musculoskeletal pain and chronic pain, helping to heal nerve damage and restore central nervous system function, supporting mental health, relieving anxiety and depression, and addressing sleep problems. Whereas with conventional medicine, a patient might go from one doctor to another to handle all of these issues, the acupuncturist can address them all at once. The TCM point of view always takes into consideration the connection between what is going on physically with what is going on emotionally in each individual, so it is really an excellent way to help patients with fibromyalgia.

cold damp chronic pain
Cold and damp deep in the body can cause chronic pain.

Like Western medicine, TCM recognizes that sometimes fibromyalgia can be originally caused by a traumatic event or an extremely stressful time in one’s life. Emotional upheavals cause stress to the liver, which in turn causes stagnation of blood and Qi. TCM also sees coldness and dampness as pathogenic forces that can have a profound effect on overall health. According to TCM, widespread musculoskeletal pain falls under the category of Bi Syndrome. In Bi Syndromes, cold and damp get into the body and take hold on a deep level, causing pain and stiffness. With acupuncture treatment for fibromyalgia, we seek to clear cold and damp, and restore good flow of Qi and blood throughout the body.

Acupuncture has an analgesic effect, relieving muscle pain without side effects. Moxibustion may be utilized to bring warmth to areas of the body. Cupping is another modality used to draw out damp cold and improve blood flow. Tai Qi and Qi Gong, gentle therapeutic movement practices that have been developed over 1000s of years as part of TCM, also may offer great benefits for people with FM.

A systematic review of over 400 studies of fibromyalgia treatment with TCM, acupuncture treatment was found to be effective for reducing both short term pain and long term pain.

Another review found that acupuncture and herbs worked better to reduce pain than standard medication therapy.

Top 5 Tips for Managing Fibromyalgia

Tai Qi
Tai Qi and Qi Gong can be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia, chronic musculoskeletal pain, and fatigue.

Dealing with fibromyalgia and seeing significant improvement in fibro pain will probably involve making some lasting lifestyle changes. Making adjustments to your sleep habits, food choices, and your exercise routine can make a difference in preventing the next FM flare up.

  1. Choose a gentle, enjoyable form of exercise. Start slowly, and gradually increase the amount you can exercise over time. Walking outdoors is a great option, as are Tai Qi and Qi Gong.
  2. Limit or eliminate caffeine and alcohol. These substances can interfere with getting good sleep and exacerbate liver problems. Alcohol is not safe to consume if you are taking medications for fibromyalgia like Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Savella.
  3. Avoid sugar, which may give you a short-lived good feeling, but will lead to a “sugar crash,” and feeling more exhausted than before. Any kind of simple carbohydrates, like foods made of white flour, or bottled fruit juices, can cause highs and lows in blood sugar. Avoid sugar substitutes and food additives like MSG, which can trigger reactions in some people.
  4. Focus on eating complex carbohydrates, especially vegetables. These help you have a more sustained energy throughout the day. Nuts and seeds are also good.
  5. Warm baths with Epsom salts can be very soothing. 

Getting enough sleep at night, and even resting or napping during the day, may be essential to your well-being if you have fibromyalgia. Develop habits that allow for plenty of rest and set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. 

Acupuncture Near Me for Musculoskeletal Pain

Many people who have fibromyalgia choose to try alternative medicine as a way of managing FM pain. Physiological conditions that stem from emotional stress are often not resolved through the use of medications. Acupuncture and TCM have a long history of helping people to heal from emotional disturbances that cause physical pain. Acupuncture treatment works to increase the flow of energy through the body and improve the connections between the brain and nerve endings. If you or someone you know suffers with fibro, consider acupuncture as a way to find relief from musculoskeletal pain and constant fatigue.

 

 

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

Share
Call 310-451-5522 View Map Contact/Schedule