Acupuncture: Getting to the Point

We are officially in the thick of exams so we decided this would be the perfect time to introduce our first guest blogger: James Yoon, a fellow colleague from CCNM who has a strong interest in sports medicine. He played varsity basketball at the University of Western Ontario where he graduated from in 2007 with an Honors in Kinesiology.   

We would love to hear your feedback! 
The Difference Between Contemporary Medical and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture.
A chiropractor friend of mine, Evan Durnin, recently posted an article comparing Contemporary/Medical acupuncture with Traditional Chinese Medical acupuncture.  It was very informative, especially for the patient, to help distinguish the differences.  While he was very familiar with the medical/contemporary use of acupuncture, I found the TCM explanation needed a couple “holes” to be filled (no pun intended).  So naturally, I responded to his post and provided some information that could be useful for anyone interested in understanding each respective modality.

Contemporary Medical Acupuncture:
This form of acupuncture takes the traditional form of acupuncture and modifies it using modern day scientific understandings of human physiology and anatomy. At first glance this form of acupuncture will look quite similar to the traditional approach, as the same small, thin needles are places in specific points on the body for an extended period of time and removed.
In contemporary medical acupuncture, treatment is rendered after a conventional medical/neuro-functional diagnosis has been made. The practitioner will use acupuncture as a treatment modality along with other therapeutic approaches, which at our clinic includes: ART, Graston, manual manipulation, electrotherapy, ultrasound, exercise, stretching, and taping.
The contemporary acupuncture practitioner applies treatment following a conventional (scientific) view and regards the acupuncture as having certain local tissue effects as well as providing spinal segmental analgesia, extra-segmental analgesia, as well as central regulatory effects on the nervous system.  
In summary the points used in this form or acupuncture are chosen based on their specific neuroanatomical, and neuromuscular location related to your specific pain or dysfunction.  

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture:
A traditional Chinese acupuncturist will obviously also do a very comprehensive history/physical combination and make a diagnosis based on complex theories regarding disturbance in the body’s balance (energy ect.) that needs to be addressed with treatment. The imbalances previously mentioned will be quantified by excess or deficiency with respect to what are considered the five elements: water, fire, earth, metal and wood. Traditional Chinese acupuncturists believe that certain points in the body correlate with one of these elements and that treatment via acupuncture can correct imbalances, and this is how they select their highly proven and anatomically specific points.

My Response on TCM Acupuncture:
A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach goes beyond acupuncture alone. Acupuncture in TCM is just one part of the therapeutic approach, similarly to conventional medical acupuncture. In addition to nutrition and lifestyle recommendations, the use of medicinal herbs, electrostimulation, or moxaibustion are used to address these issues. For example, Astragalus (aka Dang Shen in Chinese medicine), is an adaptogenic herb and immune system modulator/enhancer. That is, during times of stress or illness, it would be considered to use to help strengthen the immune system. In the TCM approach it's considered strengthening "wei qi", which is synonymous with your immune system. And while TCM diagnosis does involve the general foundation of the 5 elements theory, diagnosing goes into much more detail. For example, there are paired organs under each element, and a variety of conditions related to that organ. An example would be "spleen qi deficiency" which is commonly seen in students. Its symptoms are characterized by poor appetite, abdominal distension (bloating), loose stools, and fatigue, just to name a few. While it is treated with acupuncture as an adjuvant therapy, the main cause is poor nutrition and timing, paired with "over thinking". That is, the body is not getting the nutrient it needs to supply the demands of a studious lifestyle. Therefore a TCM approach would typically address this issue through nutritional supplementation/changes with acupuncture aiming to strengthen your digestive system (the spleen qi).


Jwel Rana said...

Thank you for the information about your acupuncture services. I mostly like your information that is acupuncture not only provide pain relief, but also promotes balance within our body. People should take acupuncture treatment because Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine treatment is the best solutions for get relief for pain and mental stress

Andrew Moore said...

Amazing post.

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