In a recent meta-analysis, researchers analyzed the results of 29 trials and 17,922 patients suffering from chronic pain. Conditions included: neck pain, shoulder pain, low-back pain, headaches & migraines, and osteoarthritis of the knee.
From the original data set, 20 trials and 6,736 patients were used for the final conclusions, due to the fact that they included long-term follow-up data, which ultimately demonstrated that after a course of treatment, the effects of acupuncture treatments persist over a 12 month period.
There’s a reason why acupuncture has been used successfully for over 2,000 years for the treatment of pain and other conditions and continues to become more popular today in our modern society - because it works, and it works without the need of drugs.
Not until the last couple of decades has the West begun to understand the mechanism behind this non-invasive natural treatment, as well as, its clinical importance as a drug-free alternative for the treatment of chronic pain.
In one study, when acupuncture was compared to conventional primary care for the treatment of non-specific chronic low back pain, it was determined that acupuncture treatments are safe, more efficacious than conventional care, provided longer lasting results, and a more cost-effective intervention for reducing chronic pain.[i] Similar results have also been found in studies pertaining to headaches / migraines[ii], neck pain[iii], osteoarthritis pain[iv], etc.
In 2012, the Memorial Sloan – Kettering Cancer Institute undertook a meta-analysis of patient data, which showed that acupuncture was an effective treatment for the following pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain. It also concluded that acupuncture was an acceptable alternative for the treatment of chronic pain.
The Final Verdict of Experts
America’s chronic pain epidemic will only get worse, with increased painkiller and heroin addictions, and higher rates of depression and suicide. This is the only future for people who choose to remain within the “sick care” system, which is unethically encouraged by big-pharma, insurance companies, doctors and MDs, and the U.S. government; all of whom seek to keep Americans on drugs for the rest of their lives.
This system of medicine, which is driven by profit and strongly opposed to disease prevention and treatment, will continue to prescribe dangerous drugs that only have the sole purpose of suppressing symptoms, instead of upholding the Hippocratic Oath, which every practitioner takes upon graduation, and solving the root cause of chronic pain.
It’s time for chronic pain sufferers to realize that we already have an evidence based solution for pain, one that has been utilized for thousands of years. It’s been proven to be more efficacious, more cost-effective and safer than conventional medicine - it’s called acupuncture!
Shoulder pain caused by rotator cuff injuries can be very painful and cause restricted movement; making daily tasks almost impossible. The usual cause of this type of shoulder pain is an impingement of the tendons or bursa, which are being pinched by the bones of the shoulder. If left untreated, this can cause inflammation of the aforementioned structures (tendinitis or bursitis).
In April of this year, a group of Spanish researchers published the results of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that investigated the effects of acupuncture on pain caused by shoulder impingement.
Study participants were placed into two groups, one received verum (true) acupuncture, and the other group received sham acupuncture. Treatments were given once a week for 4 weeks, and pain levels were recorded after every treatment, and at a 3 month follow-up.
Researchers concluded that true acupuncture provided clinically significant results for reducing shoulder pain and for increasing shoulder functioning compared to sham acupuncture; and they recommended acupuncture as a safe and reliable treatment for shoulder impingement.
Sciatica (Bi Zheng) is a commonly seen complaint in the clinic. In fact, I suffered from sciatica myself many years ago, and that was what led me to acupuncture and my current practice.
Most people, and even some doctors, don’t realize that sciatica is not a diagnosis, but rather a syndrome caused by a herniated disc with nerve root compression.
Acupuncture is used to decrease inflammation around the nerve root and to increase blood circulation in the local area. No drugs are needed to treat this syndrome if you see an acupuncturist.
A group of researchers from the Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine conducted a systemic review and meta - analysis of the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of Sciatica. It was concluded that acupuncture was more effective than conventional Western medicine in terms of treatment effectiveness, pain intensity and pain threshold.
In another review, researchers analyzed 11 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and found that acupuncture was more effective than Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for patients suffering from sciatica.
Acupuncture Restores Brain Connectivity in Chronic Pain
Acupuncture Underutilized for America's Chronic Pain Epidemic . . . Ouch!
Chronic Low - Back Pain
Support H.R. 3849, the Acupuncture for Heroes and Seniors Act
It is a well-established fact that chronic pain causes changes in brain connectivity between specific regions in the brain that are associated with increased attention to pain, emotional rumination, nociceptive memory and avoidance learning.
In a recent Harvard Medical School study, based on this research, clinicians found that repeated verum (true) acupuncture compared to sham acupuncture was able to restore balance in connectivity between the dysregulated brain regions associated with pain.
In other studies, acupuncture has been found to more efficacious, produces longer lasting results, and more cost-effective than conventional medicine in the treatment of pain.
Also see chronic low-back pain
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Chronic Pain . . .
. . . in America has become a serious national health issue that continues to grow exponentially every year. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in their 2011 report on pain in America, 100 million adults are affected by chronic pain[i], although, this number is probably much higher, because it does not include children, veterans, or institutionalized individuals. Regardless, this is a staggering number, especially when compared to other diseases that receive extensive media and funding, as can be seen below.
Chronic pain can be defined as a pain that persists longer than 3 months, which is the normal tissue healing time.[v] In addition to this we can include any disruption of the individual’s quality of life caused by the persistence of chronic pain. In a 2012 health survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the top four reported types of chronic pain reported by Americans were: Low back pain (28%), neck pain (14%), headaches / migraines (14%), and facial / jaw pain (5%).[vi] Another survey conducted by the Betty Ford Center found similar results: Low back pain (55.90%), Headaches (33.30%), neck pain (26.30%), and osteoarthritis (21.30%). “Based on the survey, Americans with chronic pain say current treatments don’t work, leading to years of intense suffering, thoughts of suicide and often dependence on medications.”[vii]
Why the Western medical paradigm fails in the Treatment of Chronic Pain?
There are two major problems with the Western model to treat chronic pain. Firstly, and most importantly, Western Doctors don’t have the necessary training in pain – management. In a 2011 study, pain education was assessed in 117 U.S. and Canadian medical schools. Alarmingly, it was found that a large number of U.S. medical schools did not report teaching any pain courses, and an even larger number reported teaching less than 5 hours on the topic of pain. Only 4% of U.S. medical schools reported having any kind of integrated pain courses. In comparison, Canadian medical schools devote twice as many hours as U.S. medical schools for the instruction of pain topics.[viii]
Unlike Western medical training, the curriculum for Eastern physicians includes pain management from the beginning all the way through to graduation. In fact, pain is one of the major focal points in Eastern medicine, and it’s not limited to classroom lectures, but most importantly, includes the clinical setting where we are required to not only treat pain, but listen with empathetic ears to the patient’s story of how their chronic pain has affected their life and daily routines. I stress empathetically, because you’ll find that most Eastern physicians found their way into Alternative medicine after Western medicine had failed them in their own suffering from pain or other disease. All of us found Eastern medicine to be so incredible that we ourselves became practitioners.
Another important characteristic that should be included in a comprehensive pain – management training course is the, how to be a human, aspect of treating pain sufferers. Unfortunately, I’ve heard from many of my patients about extremely poor, and in some cases, utterly deplorable bedside manner in which there is a complete lack of empathy or understanding of the patient’s situation, which in most cases has completely changed their lives, their daily routines, as well as, affecting the lives of their families, friends and co-workers. Another major complaint is the lack of communication from their doctors. This includes not reviewing lab test results with patients; in some cases patients were just sent the results via email with no explanation. In other cases, there was mis-interpretation of results in which immediate action was needed, but not taken. Often there is a lack of communication of pertinent information about the patient’s condition, treatment and prognosis. And finally, the inability of the doctor to merely listen to what their patients are saying.
The second problem with the Western paradigm is that the Western treatment for pain is not a treatment at all, but rather a numbing of the mind by blocking pain signals with pharmacological agents, many of which were never intended to be used as pain medication like anticonvulsants . What happens is that you take these medications and you think you feel better, but in reality the pain is still there; you just don’t perceive it anymore. In fact, you probably have problems perceiving many things, because you’re so drugged – up that you start to lose the ability to function on a daily basis. This type of big pharma pseudo - treatment reaches far beyond just pain cases, this is the protocol for the treatment of all diseases - suppress the symptoms with drugs and ignore discovering what the root of the problem is; and by the way, you have to take these drugs for the rest of your life. Does that sound like a treatment to you? This is why we have a “sick care” system instead of a “health care” system.
This indiscriminate prescribing of painkillers for chronic pain relief has become a grim epidemic in the U.S. that has caused increased rates of overdoses, addiction, depression, and suicide. According to the (CDC), overdose death rates in the U.S. have more than tripled since 1990. In the same report they found that 3 out of 4 prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers (opioid and narcotic). In 2008, the number of prescription painkiller overdose deaths surpassed the number of heroin and cocaine overdose deaths combined.[ix] Even worse, due to the addictive nature of opioid painkillers, we are now seeing a rise in the number of heroin users. According to recent research by the U.S. government, half of young heroin users interviewed said they had abused prescription painkillers prior to trying heroin. Two of the most common responses for why they switched to heroin were; 1) heroin was easier to obtain, and 2) heroin was much cheaper.[x]
Major contributors to this epidemic are the doctors/MDs who are senselessly prescribing opioid pain killers without considering the negative consequences their patients will most likely face down the road, like built up tolerances, addiction, further depression, a myriad of other side-effects related to the drugs themselves, and suicidal tendencies; but don’t despair, they have a drug you can take for each and every one of these situations. This raises the question, who’s really benefiting from all these drugs; it certainly isn’t the patient.
Unbeknownst to patients, the vast majority of doctors don’t receive any special training for prescribing these potent pain killers, and even worse, they aren’t required to obtain training. In2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put together a panel of outside experts to explore the need for specialized training for doctors in the area of prescribing pain-killers. The panel was unanimous in its opinion that doctors should be required to have this training. Despite expert recommendations by their own panel, the FDA decided to make the training voluntary. To make things even more unregulated and unethical, the FDA left the training and course design up to the discretion of the pharmaceutical companies, who then outsourced everything to training companies that know nothing about pharmaceuticals.[xi] This is another blatant example of a government agency sitting in the pocket of big-pharma, and how our “sick care” industry is driven by profits, rather than having the best interest of the patient in mind. Just think for a moment how different (better), things would be if we removed profit from our so – called “health care” system, and focused on disease prevention.
How Does Acupuncture Reduce Chronic Pain
The human body is an amazing organic system that has the ability to self-regulate and heal itself when something is out of balance or injured. Sometimes we impede this process by leading lifestyles that negate health and homeostasis. Acupuncture is a simple and marvelous tool that is used to restore balance by both inhibiting and sending signals through the vast network of the nervous system, which enables a wide array of therapeutic effects both locally and systemically.
For the treatment of chronic pain it’s more common to use electro-acupuncture (EA), because it has a stronger analgesic effect compared to regular acupuncture. EA is acupuncture, but with the addition of a low frequency (20Hz), electrical current that is passed through a pair of selected needles. This constant and consistent stimulation produces rapid therapeutic effects, which usually take longer to achieve with manual stimulation (twirling the needle between the fingers). Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of EA in the treatment of chronic pain through the release of opioids in the brain and spinal cord, as well as, the stimulation of neurotransmitters; both of which reduce pain.[xii] [xiii] Data confirms the following effects elicited by EA treatment for pain:
An interesting study out of Germany used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with and without acupuncture to see which parts of the brain were activated during pain stimulation. Scientists initiated a pain stimulus without acupuncture to volunteers to record the areas of the brain that were activated. Researchers found that there was a significant reduction in most of the areas of the brain that perceive and process pain, which led to the conclusion that acupuncture is an effective therapy for pain. The study showed that acupuncture inhibits the incoming signals to the brain much like opioid drugs do, and it also alters the patient’s perception of pain by producing a placebo-like analgesic response in the brain.
Acupuncture is the Answer to the Chronic Pain Epidemic
There’s a reason why acupuncture has been used successfully for over 2,000 years for the treatment of pain and other conditions, and continues to become more popular today in our modern society - because it works, and it works without the need of drugs. Not until the last couple of decades has the West begun to understand the mechanism behind this non-invasive natural treatment, as well as, its clinical importance as a drug-free alternative for the treatment of chronic pain. In one study, when acupuncture was compared to conventional primary care for the treatment of non-specific chronic low back pain, it was determined that acupuncture treatments are safe, more efficacious than conventional care, provided longer lasting results, and a more cost-effective intervention for reducing chronic pain.[xx] Similar results have also been found in studies pertaining to headaches / migraines [xxi], neck pain [xxii], osteoarthritis pain [xxiii], etc. In a meta-analysis of patient data conducted by the Memorial Sloan – Kettering Cancer Institute, it was shown that acupuncture was an effective treatment for the following pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain. It also concluded that acupuncture was an acceptable alternative for the treatment of chronic pain. [xxiv]
Final Verdict on Chronic Pain
America’s chronic pain epidemic will only get worse, with increased painkiller and heroin addictions, and higher rates of depression and suicide. This is the only future for people who choose to remain within the “sick care” system, which is unethically encouraged by big-pharma, insurance companies, doctors and MD's, and the U.S. government, all of whom seek to keep Americans on drugs for the rest of their lives. This system of medicine, which is driven by profit and strongly opposed to disease prevention and treatment, will continue to prescribe dangerous drugs that only have the sole purpose of suppressing symptoms, instead of upholding the Hippocratic Oath and solving the root cause of chronic pain.
It’s time for chronic pain sufferers to realize that we already have an evidence based solution for pain, one that has been utilized for thousands of years. It’s been proven to more efficacious, more cost-effective and safer. It’s time to end your pain America! So why aren't we using it?
Seek out your local licensed & board certified acupuncturist today, so you can have a healthier and pain free tomorrow.
Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc.
Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers used acupuncture to help alleviate calf pain to get ready for the Seahawks game Sunday.
Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc.
According to a 2011 study, the prevalence of hyperuricemia and gout has increased in both men and women over the past 20 years; effecting 8.3 million American adults.  Gout affects men 4 times more than women, and is seen to a greater extent in men over the age of 30. 
Gout attacks can be quite excruciating, but can be lessened or even prevented with some simple lifestyle changes. Below you will find some recommendations that will improve your quality of life, and reduce the frequency of attacks.
1. Stick to a low – purine diet  - Purines are amino acids that when metabolized create the waste product uric acid. The following foods are high in purines and should be avoided:
2. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet - Gout is an inflammatory disease, so it only makes sense to eat foods that do not invoke inflammation. (see list of anti-inflammatory foods vs inflammatory foods)
3. Avoid refined sugars and high fructose corn sugar (HFCS) - The standard American diet (SAD) is saturated with sugar and sweeteners like HFCS, and are implicated in many chronic diseases. HFCS is a combination of fructose and glucose sugars and directly linked with metabolic diseases. HFCS increases uric acid , and has also been found to cause scarring in the liver where most uric acid is synthesized. 
4. Eliminate alcohol - Alcohol converts to lactic acid, which inhibits the elimination of uric acid.
5. Stay hydrated - This helps flush the system. Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to increase the detoxing effects.
6. Restrict caffeine intake - Studies have found a correlation between caffeine intake within a 24 hour period and increased gout attacks in people who already have the condition. 
7. Reduce weight - Obesity puts individuals at higher risk for gout, especially men.  Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys demonstrated that gout was more prevalent in individuals with a higher body mas index (BMI) score. 
8. Manage stress - No matter what the disease stress has a negative effect on the mind and the body. Stress can trigger a gout attack, so it's important to find productive ways to deal with stress. Here are a few suggestions: meditation, yoga or deep breathing; find what works best for you.
9. Eat lots of cherries or hawthorn berries ( 20 / day) - These contain antioxidants and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Studies have found that cherry consumption reduces the frequency of gout attacks. 
10. Avoid these medications:
Lifestyle modifications are the most effective deterrent of gout attacks. Visit our Conditions Treated page to read more about the condition of gout
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Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., LAc., Dipl.Ac.
Overuse due to repetitive motion and poor swing mechanics are often the cause of elbow injuries in the game of golf. In the case of golfer’s elbow, the tendons become inflamed and local circulation can become inhibited causing such symptoms as: pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow, which can sometimes radiate down the inside of the arm, numbness or tingling in one or more of the fingers, as well as, hand & wrist weakness. If you experience this injury, whatever you do, DON’T take a Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) like aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, etc. Even though NSAIDs are great pain relievers, it has been proven (a long time ago), that they inhibit the healing mechanism of the body, and promote incomplete healing of soft tissue. What this means is that, if you start playing before your injury is completely healed, you risk re-injuring the elbow; which may cause more damage than the first time.
A faster and more effective way for you to “get your swing back”, is with a safe and non-invasive therapy like acupuncture and Eastern Medicine. Healing Lotus Acupuncture as a high success rate at treating various soft tissue injuries, and getting our clients back into the game!
To learn more about improving or getting back your golf game, call Scott today at: (309) 764.4753
More info on elbow pain
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This ancient therapeutic art has been practiced throughout Asia for thousands of years. The benefits of cupping are many and include the following: it both regulates and moves Qi and Blood in the sub-cutaneous tissues, draws out and releases toxins, releases congested blood in the tissues, and decreases pain and stiffness. Cupping is indicated for: Abdominal & back pain, muscle aches & joint pain, constipation, hypertension, and asthma, etc., etc.