New patients often inquire if I specialize in specific areas of treatment. They are surprised when I say that while there are some syndromes or illnesses I treat more often, I choose not to specialize. This is one of the things I love most about my practice. On a given day, the types of issues I am looking at in my patients may vary hour to hour. It keeps me on my toes, as no two days are alike. It may also have to do something with my personality as I am naturally energetic and enjoy a challenge.
Acupuncture allows the body to use its own energy to heal itself. It is an amazing tool to have in your arsenal, allowing successful treatment for a multitude of illnesses. Today in the U.S. many people are just beginning to learn about the amazing benefits of acupuncture, even though it has been around for over four thousand years. Across the world there are hospitals that incorporate acupuncture in their clinics. It is commonly used in oncology departments as well as for anesthesia. It is even utilized in veterinary medicine.
A glimpse into a typical day in my acupuncture practice would probably be an eye-opener for most people. (Many people still falsely believe that acupuncture is just for back pain!) I’d like to share a typical day in my practice. I have not chosen my most challenging cases; I have simply reviewed a segment of a typical day from my calendar.
At 8:00 a.m., my first patient is a man in his fifties who had suffered from constant pain in his neck and lower back as well as left-shoulder pain that radiated down to his elbow and fingers. He began seeing me two months ago. He was concerned because his pain is from repetitive use in the workplace, related to his stance and use of his left side over a typical 15-hour workday. He wasn’t sure how acupuncture could help him if he was constantly aggravating the same areas of pain. At this time, his neck pain, lower-back pain, and swelling in his left arm have been completely resolved, and he has only some minor discomfort in his left hand, which we continue to work on. Most importantly, we support his body to allow him to do the job he loves most with minimal wear-and-tear on his body. He tells me he feels younger and has more stamina to get through his day.
Next is a young woman who is a sports enthusiast. She was referred to me by her physical therapist, who felt that acupuncture would work for her in conjunction with her PT regimen. She’s a tennis player, a runner, a cyclist. Her issues are most commonly shoulder-, elbow-, or hip-related. However, since she has begun incorporating acupuncture into her life, she finds that her stamina and overall game have improved greatly! I see this a lot with my athletic patients, male and female alike.
In walks a fairly new patient who has a frustrating syndrome called achalasia, where his esophageal sphincter fails to open and close at the appropriate times, causing him to constantly regurgitate his food and drink. He is always accompanied by his supportive wife. We hope to avoid surgery. In addition to acupuncture, where we are working on getting peristalsis to work in the proper direction and the sphincter to relax at the appropriate times, I am also working with the couple to monitor his dietary intake to try and track the triggers so we can minimize his discomfort until we get a handle on things.
My next patient came to me at the recommendation of another patient, as many do. She is a migraine sufferer; or, rather, she previously suffered from migraine headaches for over 20 years. She is now on maintenance and comes in every few weeks as a pick-me-up, happy to report that she remains headache-free!
My next patient initially came to me for sciatic back pain. In a few treatments, we were able to completely resolve his excruciating back pain, which radiated to his thighs. We have now switched our focus and are working on weight loss. He understands I won’t promise quick weight loss, as I do not believe in the bounce-back that I see every day, where people lose too quickly only to gain more back, wreaking havoc on cardiovascular health. Instead we use a conglomeration of tools. I utilize acupuncture and electric stimulation to speed up the metabolism. Simultaneously, we review his nutritional intake and are beginning to get him to change his old habits. He is still struggling to get into a good exercise regimen. It is difficult for him to make the time during his workday. I know that this is the key for this patient, and we are going to get there.
In walks a young girl in her twenties. The first time she came to my office she was with her mom and was reluctant to speak about her issues. I kindly escorted her mom to the waiting room and explained to the patient that unless she was a danger to herself or others, legally whatever we discuss stays with me and cannot be shared with her mom. At which time my patient began to unload a real burden she had been carrying with her. When I first started seeing her she was anorexic, was abusing prescription drugs, and had no direction in life. She had dropped out of school and couldn’t hold a job. We made a connection immediately and she continued to come in twice a week consistently for the next few months. She drove on her own and rarely missed an appointment. Today she walks in smiling. Food is no longer a crutch in her life or the bane of her existence. She has not taken any drugs in what she refers to as “forever.” She is engaged to be married and is talking about returning to work once things settle down after the wedding. She hugs me when she leaves.
My next patient is a chronic vertigo sufferer. She has had vertigo attacks that last for a few months at a time over the past 23 years. She began coming in the summer when she felt that an attack was imminent because she had a familiar pain in the base of her skull and around the back of her ear. She has not had an attack at all since she began treatment. She no longer worries about lying down and turning her head quickly. She actually had a dream recently of a roller-coaster ride and woke up without being dizzy. That was a breakthrough moment for her, as she used to have dreams that would wake her up to a full-blown attack, with the room spinning.
A previous insomnia sufferer when we began treatment, my next patient was referred to me by his primary-care physician, who felt he could be better served with acupuncture than prolonged meds. He used to have difficulty both falling and staying asleep. He found himself going through his daily routine in a haze of exhaustion. He pops in for a treatment every so often and reports sleeping a full night. It is simply no longer an issue in his life.
In walks a visibly pregnant patient. She suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome exacerbated during the pregnancy, as well as exhaustion resulting from the pain. It is so intense it keeps her up at night, mentally and physically exhausting her. I treat many pregnant patients, as they are limited in what they can do for pain or nausea relief and overall fatigue. Acupuncture is a great tool for them and wonderful for promoting a healthy pregnancy. In this case the patient is sleeping better and is less tired. Her pain is still persistent but has decreased significantly in its intensity.
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I don’t specialize in a particular area, because I love that my days are so varied. It keeps things exciting! Whether it’s helping a patient with simple stress relief or alleviating side effects of chemotherapy, I feel blessed to be able to help people in their holistic healing the natural way. While this is just a snippet of what a typical day is like for me, I hope I conveyed the joy my patients bring to my life. I go to sleep every night knowing I have done my best to help my patients live life to the fullest–pain-free and worry-free. I wonder who will walk in next; I hope and pray I will be able to help them on their wellness journey.