Acupuncture Methods of Practice
Acupuncture is a traditional East Asian medical therapy which uses very fine stainless steel needles to stimulate/treat specific acupuncture points and organ systems. Acupuncture is used to promote health and treat several organic and functional disorders. According to the World Health Organization , many common acute and chronic health disorders benefit from acupuncture treatment. The National Institute of Health has been researching the effects of acupuncture and East Asian Herbal medicine on several diseases and disorders including HIV. Medical Doctors, Osteopaths and Naturopaths are also practicing acupuncture techniques, especially in the area of pain management, musculoskeletal injury and sports medicine. Because of increasing positive scientific reports, acupuncture is currently practiced at the Swedish Hospital Pain Center and at the University of Washington Pain Clinic.
For your safety, all acupuncture needles used at this clinic are sterile, disposable stainless steel and for single use only. After use they are disposed of as biohazardous waste as indicated by state law. Dr. Way is a professional member of Washington East Asian Medical Association (WEAMA) and is nationally certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
How It Works
There are four main theories on how acupuncture works:
Trigger point therapy for myofascial pain and soft tissue injury: Acupuncture techniques are applied directly to the muscle or musculo-tendonous junction where active trigger points exist. By releasing these areas with dry needle application, pain relief and healing of damaged tissues can occur. According to the latest research, there is approximately an 80% correlation of myofascial trigger and motor points to acupuncture points.
The Gate Theory of Pain suggests that acupuncture stimulates large A-beta nerve fibers and “closes the pain gate” in the substantia gelatinosa (sensory aspect) of the spinal cord. Pain impulses (from A-delta and C-nerve fibers) are then prevented from reaching the brain.
The Neurohumoral Theory proposes that acupuncture induces the release of the endogenous opiates and hormones: endorphins, dynorphins, serotonin, and epinephrine.
These chemicals are extremely powerful at suppressing pain. The practice of needle stimulation by rotation, electricity (electroacupuncture) or by heat (moxibustion) enhances the release of these natural pain killers.
Ancient Chinese cultures believed that the body flows with vital energy called “Qi” (pronounced “chee”) along channels termed meridians. When Qi becomes blocked or stagnant, it must be stimulated to flow freely. When Qi flows freely, health is maintained and restored.
Additional East Asian Therapies Offered
Although Traditional Asian Acupuncture is a primary form treatment used in our clinic, one or more of the following techniques may also be used:
- Electrical stimulation of acupuncture needles with microcurrent therapy in specific points and meridians.
- Physiotherapy is used adjunctively for pain management/injury rehabilitation. Infrared may be used depending on the case.
- Cupping, the use of glass cups which form a suction on the skin to promote and stimulate blood flow to certain areas of the body.
- Gwa Hsa, a dermal friction technique to promote and stimulate blood flow to certain areas of the body.
- Tui Na, Asian massage to promote and stimulate blood flow.
- “Soft tissue injury”: (also called “dry needling” or “intramuscular stimulation”.
- Dietary advice based on Traditional East Asian Medicine theory.
- Asian herbs and herbal formulas
- Sports Acupuncture
In the field of Acupuncture, Sports Acupuncture has become an advancing specialty. Practitioners in this field have an interest in assisting athletes to help their injuries heal more rapidly, prevent injury and enhance their athletic performance. Sports Acupuncture is often applied directly before or after athletic events for injury or prevention. It is also used for injury rehabilitation, often in conjunction with physical therapy. This method is quickly being discovered by many elite athletes in the NFL, MLB and Olympic Track & Field.
Sports Acupuncture combines the wisdom of the East with Western Medicine’s understanding of anatomy, injuries and soft tissue rehabilitation.
Benefits of Sports Acupuncture
- Pain management and treatment for acute and chronic injury
- Injury prevention and rehabilitation
- Improvement of muscle strength, girth and tone
- Pre–event performance enhancement/post–event revitalization and relaxation
- Coordinated care and communication with Allied Health Professionals: Physical Therapists, Sports Medicine Physicians, Orthopedists, Osteopaths, Naturopaths and Chiropractors
Dr. Way integrates traditional East Asian healing methods with her Naturopathic and Physical Medicine skills to provide excellent whole person care for the athlete. Dr. Way uses Sports Acupuncture techniques for injury rehabilitation; electroacupuncture and physiotherapy are used for pain management. Nutritional counseling, Chinese and European Botanical Medicine may be combined to maximize the athlete’s recovery and performance. Distance bikers, triathletes, distance runners, soccer and racquetball players have benefited from these services from Dr. Way.
Dr. Way is a Professional Member of the Sports Acupuncture Alliance.
Side effects of acupuncture may include, but are not limited to the following: bruising, superficial bleeding, localized infection, pain/discomfort following treatment in the insertion areas or a feeling of fatigue.
Patients with severe bleeding disorders, pacemakers or potential serious disorders such as cardiac conditions or acute abdominal symptoms should inform the practitioner prior to any treatment.
Acupuncture is not recommended:
- During pregnancy (especially during first trimester).
- If you are excessively fatigued.
- After ingestion of caffeine.
- If you are profoundly sleep–deprived.
- If you are excessively hungry.
- If you are using certain prescription drugs.
- In children under the age of 7.