Knee pain and a surprising solution
In Kiiko style acupuncture (a Japanese style of acupuncture handed down over generations), it teaches that ofttimes when acupuncture points that you feel should work but do not, there is a blockage in the body that is preventing the healing process.
I have been working on a patient recently who has some unusual medial knee pain. The pain started above the joint and extended a few inches up the leg. I am pretty sure it is not meniscus related but with some testing could not really differentiate between the gracilis or quad tendons in that area. The patient told me that they have using the leg press and leg adductor machines at the gym and that the pain is worse when moving the leg into a sitting-cross-legged position. The patient had first tried to self-treat by using moxa (herbal heat) and herbal patches but with little result. When I first saw this patient her chief complaint was actually back pain, but the knee issue came up and we began to treat them concurrently.
After several visits, the back pain was reduced significantly, but the knee pain was pretty stubborn and the pain reduction was insignificant.
In keeping with Kiiko's teachings, I re-checked the patient's basic constitution and found that the "adrenal" points (trigger points in a sense) were quite sensitive. So far, with several treatments behind us, I am finding that addressing the adrenals (calming the "fight or flight" response) has been thee most effective in reducing the patient's pain. Each visit has ended with the patient unable to replicate the pain. The pain comes back in a few days, but has been less with each visit. Stuff like this is what makes acupuncture so fascinating. Why would this work? It wouldn't surprise me in the least that with our stressful lifestyles, it is inhibiting our natural abilities to heal. A good reminder to find the time to slow down whether it be through qigong, meditation, tai qi, or as simple as taking the time to sit down with a good book.
My patient is still continuing to see me and I am excited to see how we progress in the next few weeks.
I just finished reading a blog post from a very well known endurance athlete, and when I got to the sentence "It turns out there isn't much to do about a broken toe" except RICE. My initial reaction was to feel sadness. Pity? Maybe. But as I sit here, I realize it just shows how much we have lost touch with all the medicine that came before us and how much a large segment of us has yet to re-learn that there are other ways in which we can reduce pain, heal faster, and heal well.
But every time I see comments like this, I get it. I totally get it! It took me 30 years to accidentally stumble upon what we now call *alternative medicine. If you told me before to take a certain herb, poke a needle in me, or do a particular qigong exercise to help heal my injuries, I would have probably politely smiled and said "uh huh" before I just popped some Advil and grabbed some ice from the freezer. That's all I knew and we all know that western medicine is the top of it's class, right? Sadly for me, I learned to look outside only after 12 years of back pain, multiple doctors, and tons of prescriptions for hydrocodone, brought me to the point that I could barely walk and I had stopped going out with friends because it was too hard to sit. It took desperation. And this is what I usually see in my clinic. Chinese Medicine is still a last resort. And yet think of how powerful, truly powerful, medicine would be today if western and alternative worked hand in hand. And yes I mean hand in hand. Western medicine is extremely helpful when it comes to diagnoses (though this is not always necessary, for things like broken bones, it helps), xrays/MRI's, and emergency medicine to name a few. And it has been proven to work very well in cases like cancer and fertility.
Today, because of that desperation and a bit of luck, I discovered how out of touch I was with remedies that have been effective for thousands of years, being mired in a system that only gave me pain medication which never addressed the problem.
The deeper you get into ancient text, the stranger it feels when you realize that the modern medicinal field, through technology, is discovering things today what previous centuries have already established in their medicine systems without all the fancy gizmos. It gets downright weird. For example, it is only recently that modern medicine has started to realize that the fascial planes in our body actually correlate pretty accurately to the channels used in Chinese Medicine along which acupuncture points are found. It brings a modern understanding to why a point in the toe might affect something in the eye. Chinese medicine knew this years ago whereas modern medicine still separates the body parts into "specialties", without considering how something on the opposite side of the body may be related to a problem. Western medicine is just beginning to understand this.
A large part of why I entered into Chinese Medicine after years in the graphics field was to be able to bring this medicine further out into the public. I was shocked to realize that no one at the hospitals had told me that I could try acupuncture or herbs, or even chiropractic. There are so many things a person can do for themselves and you DON'T even need to see me. Try turmeric (a known anti-inflammatory. 500 mg 3 times per day. About a 1/4 tsp). Purchase Wu Yang plasters online or at your local chinese herbal market or store. These patches are for red, inflamed and/or new injuries to circulate blood and "cool" the injury. After the inflammation (touch the injury. Does it feel warmer than usual to you? Compare it to the other side) subsides and the injury still feels tight and sore, try an Espom salt soak to bring more circulation into the area and start softening the ligaments and scar tissue that is probably forming. How do acupuncture needles help? Not only can you reduce the pain, needles also increase circulation of blood and allows the body to target a specific area to increase healing. Depending on the injury, acupuncture can help re-align structural weaknesses that may be causing the injury in the first place. Needles and a proper diagnosis can also help resolve other problems in your body that may be preventing the injury from optimal healing.
What I most want for people who have never tried acupuncture, is only this. Keep it in your back pocket. You might think it's a joke, that it's weird, that it's not for you, that it's scary. But what I hope for you is that it becomes a part of your collective subconscious. So that when you're ready, when you've come to a point with whatever it might be, that you might remember that there is something else out there that might help you or a friend or family member, and to not resign yourselves to the idea of "isn't much to do".
(*though my specialty may be in Chinese Medicine, this does not preclude Ayurvedic or other medicines that has been passed through a myriad of cultures throughout the world. I can't claim to have tried them all, but just like it is ridiculous to think that western medicine is the only healing modality out there, it would be unfair to think that Chinese Medicine is the only thing that works too.)
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