Acupuncture: Not Just Needles

Cupping AcupunctureMost people have heard of the field of acupuncture by now, but did you realize the scope of the practice encompasses Chinese medicine, which includes so much more than needles? Let’s explore this ancient therapy.

First of all, the practice of Chinese medicine starts with a diagnosis. The practitioner asks many questions to build a history; this includes the answers to digestion, appetite, diet, sleep patterns, bowel movement urination, pain, lifestyle, and stress level, for example. The acupuncturist will also be noting the voice pitch, hair luster, skin color and tone, as well as posture and mood of the patient and any significant odor. After that, there is a pulse and tongue analysis to determine where the pattern and root are, primarily. Finally, blood pressure is measured and other applicable tests done, including palpation of the body. After this history, a diagnosis and treatment plan is determined. What might be included in this plan? continue reading »

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Seven Ways Acupuncture Can Help Mothers

One of the best gifts you can give your mother this Mother’s Day is the gift of acupuncture. Acupuncture can help with an abundance of health problems and get you feeling one hundred percent again. Mom’s make the world work, it’s a known fact. So this holiday season you should give your mother the gift of acupuncture, here are seven reasons why.


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Acupuncture for Addiction

Addiction is defined as the compulsive physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance, which means addiction can come in a lot of different forms.  People can be addicted to illicit drugs like heroin just as easily as they can be addicted to sugar. But for the purpose of this article, let’s stick to illicit drugs and alcohol.

According to the Health Services Administration, 23.5 million people ages 12 or older have needed treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. And the treatments provided aren’t guaranteed, nor are they always easy. Luckily, there are alternative treatment options that can help. continue reading »

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Does Your Liver Need a Spring Tune-Up?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season is ruled by a particular organ system and spring is connected to the liver. What does this mean? Well, you probably notice changes in the way you feel, both physically and mentally, as the seasons change. I know I tend to feel a bit more contemplative and introspective during the winter months. Once spring hits, I’m ready to recharge and get things done. The liver energy is strong and assertive, the type of energy you need to create plans and then propel them into motion. However, if your liver is a little out of balance, you might notice you are more irritable or on edge than usual. Here are a few signs that your liver is in need of an acupuncture tune-up: continue reading »

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Acupuncture and colon cancer

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States with about 60,000 deaths from it every year. Like all cancer, treatment can be long, uncomfortable and come with many side effects. Those getting chemotherapy may experience nausea, vomiting, postoperative pain, cancer related pain, insomnia and anxiety. The chronic pain can significantly impact quality of life. Most patients are prescribed medications such as opioids for pain that have side effects and are highly addictive. continue reading »

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All About Moxibustion

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that incorporates numerous methods for treating disease and illness. One of the tools found in the toolbox of the TCM practitioner is known as moxibustion.

Moxibustion is a technique that involves the burning of mugwort, known as moxa, which is an herb that facilitates healing. The purpose of moxibustion is to stimulate the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), strengthen the blood and maintain general health. Qi is translated as life energy. There are two types of moxibustion, direct and indirect. Direct moxibustion uses moxa shaped into a small cone and is placed on top of an acupuncture point and burned. This type of moxibustion has two subcategories, scarring and non-scarring. Scarring moxa burns until it distinguishes on its own. This may lead to localized scarring and blisters. Non-scarring moxa allows for the moxa to be placed on the acupuncture point, lit, extinguished and removed before it burns the skin.   continue reading »

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Heart Afire: The Fire Element

The organs in Chinese medicine are more than just a physical representation. The organs include not only their physiological function, but also their mental, emotional, spiritual and elemental qualities that align with nature and the seasons. Let’s explore the heart.

The heart season is summer, and heart is considered the most yang: hot, bountiful and abundant. Yang is what is bright, moving, outward, hot and loud. Yin is what is more inward, still, dark and cooler. The color of the heart is associated with red, the climate is heat, the flavor is bitter and it’s paired organ is the small intestine (many urinary issues are due to “heart fire” heat descending). The sense aligned with heart is the tongue, and the vessels associated with heart are the tissues. The heart sound is laughing, and the emotion is joy. The heart houses what is known as the shen, which is the mind and spirit. continue reading »

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Valentine’s Day, TCM and Heart Health

Every February men all over the world flock to the local flower shops and jewelry stores in search of the perfect bouquet or piece of jewelry to express their undying love to their significant other. Why?  Nobody knows for certain, but there are at least a couple of theories.

One theory is a Catholic priest, Valentine, was imprisoned for helping Christians escape Roman prisons.  While he imprisoned himself, Valentine fell in love with a young girl who visited him. Allegedly, before his death, Valentine wrote a letter and signed it, “From your Valentine.”  Thus, the first Valentine’s Day card was created, or so it is reported. continue reading »

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Dry Needling is Acupuncture

 

“Dry needling is indistinguishable from acupuncture.”

— American Medical Association (AMA)

 

Here are the facts you really need to know about dry needling:

 

  1. Dry needling is acupuncture.

More specifically, dry needling is acupuncture that involves inserting an acupuncture needle (a U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA]-regulated medical device) through the skin and into an acupuncture point (a circumscribed area of muscle or connective tissue) that is eliciting a flinch reaction on palpation, now commonly referred to as a trigger point, to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent disease or other conditions—especially musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders, including musculoskeletal pain.  Dry needling is not new. It was first described more than 2,000 years ago in the Chinese medical literature.

  1. Dry needling is unsafe when performed by physical therapists.

Dry needling is safe when performed by qualified practitioners of acupuncture, such as physicians and acupuncturists, but it is unsafe when performed by physical therapists—due to inadequate and improper training in acupuncture—as evidenced by the following examples:

  • In Colorado, a physical therapist punctured freeskier Torin Yater-Wallace’s right lung with an acupuncture needle, causing damage to the lung that led to a pneumothorax (an accumulation of air between the lung and the chest wall, causing the lung to collapse). He required surgery to treat the pneumothorax and was hospitalized for five days.

 

Freeskier Torin Yater-Wallace gives a thumbs down in the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, Colorado, on November 29, 2013, during recovery from surgery to treat a pneumothorax that he suffered after a physical therapist punctured his right lung with an acupuncture needle.

  • In Georgia, a physical therapist performed dry needling on a 15-year-old girl without obtaining the consent of her mother. She collapsed from the dry needling.
  • In Maryland, a physical therapist punctured a nerve in high school teacher Emily Kuykendall’s left leg with an acupuncture needle, causing damage to the nerve that led to pain, numbness, and paresthesias (abnormal sensations of tingling [pins-and-needles]) (5). She required drugs to treat the pain.

“This [nerve injury] is really taking a physical and emotional toll on me,” Ms. Kuykendall wrote three weeks after the adverse event. “There is almost not a minute in the day that goes by that I wish that I had not gone to see [the physical therapist]”.

  • In Arizona, three physical therapists performed dry needling through patients’ clothing, which resulted in “findings of substandard care”. This action placed the patients at risk for injuries (for example, to the heart or lungs) and infections (for example, with “flesh-eating” Streptococcus pyogenes or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA]).
  • In Arizona, a physical therapist disposed of used acupuncture needles in a public recycling container, which violated Arizona’s Biohazardous Medical Waste Regulations (Arizona Administrative Code [A.A.C.] R18-13-1401 et seq.) (9). This action placed the public and recycling workers at risk for needlestick injuries and infections (for example, with hepatitis B virus [HBV], hepatitis C virus [HCV], or human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]).

“Dry needling is unsafe when performed by physical therapists or chiropractors.”

CNA, a professional liability insurance company, provided the following examples:

  • A physical therapist punctured a patient’s right lung with an acupuncture needle, causing damage to the lung that led to a pneumothorax. She was hospitalized and underwent treatment for the pneumothorax.
  • A physical therapist punctured a patient’s left lung with an acupuncture needle, causing damage to the lung that led to a pneumothorax. She was hospitalized and underwent treatment for the pneumothorax.
  • A physical therapist punctured a patient’s lung with an acupuncture needle, causing damage to the lung that led to a pneumothorax. She required surgery to treat the pneumothorax and was hospitalized for three days.
  • A physical therapist was performing dry needling on a patient’s hip when the handle of the acupuncture needle broke off (probably due to the physical therapist using excessive force when manipulating [rotating or pistoning] the acupuncture needle), leaving the shaft of the acupuncture needle lodged in the hip. She was hospitalized and underwent surgery to remove the shaft of the acupuncture needle.
  • A physical therapist performed dry needling on a patient’s calf while failing to adhere to basic infection prevention and control practices, resulting in the patient developing a calf infection. She required “intravenous therapy and two surgical procedures” to treat the calf infection.

Patient safety and quality of care are paramount. Therefore, the National Center for Acupuncture Safety and Integrity (NCASI) agrees with the American Medical Association (AMA) that dry needling should only be performed by qualified practitioners of acupuncture, such as physicians and acupuncturists .

  1. The act of piercing and stimulating tissues with an acupuncture needle to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent disease or other conditions constitutes the practice of acupuncture.

The word acupuncture was derived from Latin acus, meaning “needle,” and English puncture. Acupuncture, which originated in China, is a form of surgery that involves piercing and stimulating tissues with an acupuncture needle to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent disease or other conditions.

The American Medical Association (AMA) states that “dry needling is indistinguishable from acupuncture”.

  1. A trigger point is an acupuncture point.

More specifically, a trigger point is an acupuncture point that is eliciting a flinch reaction on palpation. The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (黃帝內經), the foundational text of Chinese medicine, explains that “a reactive (painful) acupuncture point indicates a clinically relevant acupuncture point” (“以痛爲腧”).

In a landmark study published in the journal Pain in 1977, Dr. Ronald Melzack, a scientist who revolutionized the study and treatment of pain, and colleagues examined the correlation between trigger points and acupuncture points. The results of their analysis showed that “every trigger point [reported in the Western medical literature] has a corresponding acupuncture point”

Simply put, a trigger point is an acupuncture point.

  1. Dry needling is acupuncture, not manual therapy.

Physical therapists contend that their right to practice dry needling arises by virtue of their right to practice manual therapy. The term “manual therapy” simply means a remedial treatment consisting of manipulating a part or the whole of the body by hand. It certainly does not include the practice of surgery (severing or penetrating tissues) in any form.

  1. It is a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulations when a physical therapist purchases or possesses acupuncture needles.

Acupuncture needles are regulated as Class II (special controls) medical devices under 21 CFR § 880.5580 and must comply with all applicable requirements of the FDCA and FDA’s regulations.

In order to ensure the safe and effective use of acupuncture needles, the FDCA and FDA’s regulations require that the “sale [of acupuncture needles] must be clearly restricted to qualified practitioners of acupuncture as determined by the States.” See 61 Fed.Reg. 64616 (Dec. 6, 1996) (emphasis added); see also 21 U.S.C. § 360j(e)(1); 21 CFR §§ 801.109, 807.3(i), 880.5580(b).

Accordingly, the FDCA and FDA’s regulations require that the label on a box of acupuncture needles bares the prescription statement “Caution: Federal law restricts this device to sale by or on the order of qualified practitioners of acupuncture as determined by the States.” See, for example, the label on a box of Seirin-brand acupuncture needles (emphasis added); see also 21 U.S.C. § 360j(e); 21 CFR §§ 801.109(b)(1), 807.3(i), 880.5580(b).

 

The label on a box of Seirin-brand acupuncture needles bares the prescription statement “Caution: Federal law restricts this device to sale by or on the order of qualified practitioners of acupuncture as determined by the States.”

  1. Physical therapists tell patients that they do not use acupuncture needles to perform dry needling when, in fact, they do.

Patients have a legal right to truthful and accurate information.

  1. Physical therapists are not qualified to use acupuncture needles.

Information required for the safe and effective use of acupuncture needles—including indications, effects, routes, methods, and frequency and duration of administration and relevant hazards, contraindications, side effects, and precautions—is not commonly known to physical therapists.

  1. There are risks associated with dry needling when performed by physical therapists, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Risk of injuries (for example, to blood vessels, nerves, bones, the spinal cord, or organs).
  • Risk of infections (for example, with hepatitis B virus [HBV], hepatitis C virus [HCV], human immunodeficiency virus [HIV], “flesh-eating” Streptococcus pyogenes, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA]).
  1. It is a violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens standard when a physical therapist washes his or her gloved hands with an alcohol-based hand rub.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that this action “can lead to the formation of glove micropunctures and subsequent hand contamination” with blood or other potentially infectious materials (4); therefore, this action places the patient and physical therapist at risk for infections (for example, with HBV, HCV, HIV, “flesh-eating” Streptococcus pyogenes, or MRSA). See 29 CFR § 1910.1030(d)(ix)(B); see also 29 U.S.C. § 654.

  1. It is a violation of OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard when a physical therapist fails to wash his or her hands immediately after removal of gloves.

CDC warns that this action can result in transmission of pathogenic microorganisms from the patient to the physical therapist and from the physical therapist to the patient (4); therefore, this action places the patient and physical therapist at risk for infections (for example, with “flesh-eating” Streptococcus pyogenes or MRSA). See 29 CFR § 1910.1030(d)(2)(v); see also 29 U.S.C. § 654.

  1. It is a violation of OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard when a physical therapist inserts a used acupuncture needle into an acupuncture-needle guide tube.

This action places the physical therapist at risk for needlestick injuries and infections (for example, with HBV, HCV, or HIV). See 29 CFR § 1910.1030(d)(2)(vii); see also 29 U.S.C. § 654.

  1. It is a violation of the FDCA and FDA’s regulations when a physical therapist inserts a used acupuncture needle into a patient.

This action places the patient at risk for infections (for example, with “flesh-eating” Streptococcus pyogenes or MRSA).

Pursuant to the FDCA and FDA’s regulations, an acupuncture needle is labeled as “single use”: an acupuncture needle must be used for only one patient and only one insertion and must be discarded immediately at the end of the surgical procedure. See 21 CFR § 880.5580(b)(1); see also 21 U.S.C. §§ 321(ll)(1), 360j(e)(1)(B).

  1. It is a violation of the Federal False Claims Act (FCA) when a physical therapist bills Medicare for dry needling disguised under a Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code applicable to a physical therapy service, such as 97032 (electrical stimulation), 97110 (therapeutic exercises), 97112 (neuromuscular reeducation), or 97140 (manual therapy).

Dry needling is acupuncture; therefore, dry needling is not covered by Medicare.

 

excerpt from:

Dry Needling is Acupuncture

 

 

 

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Fighting Flu Season with Acupuncture

While the flu is actually not a season, we have become programmed to think of it as the months of November through March. On average, the flu hospitalizes thousands every year, especially the young and elderly. There are also a number of deaths related to the flu, mostly due to people already having compromised immune systems.

The flu, also known as influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is caused by a number of viruses. To date, there are approximately 26 to 30 different known strains of the flu virus. This is one of the reasons the flu vaccine has only mild efficacy. The flu vaccine itself, typically only covers five to seven strains of the flu.  Symptoms of the flu include fever, coughing, a sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, pains, runny nose and watery eyes. continue reading »

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