Acupuncture as Preventative Medicine
How does regular acupuncture treatments help deal with the “rest of the iceberg”?
In my clinical experience, I’ve observed that the majority of people who seek out acupuncture services do so because they have a pressing health concern that needs to be dealt with ASAP. Whether this health concern is chronic (long standing) or acute (just happened recently), it is usually bad enough to be affecting quality of life. This is a great reason to seek out assistance with acupuncture, as it can help to get these health concerns under control (or completely resolved in many cases), so that quality of life can improve.
But what happens after that point is reached? Should a patient continue coming in for acupuncture treatment after their initial health concern has been resolved? The short and sweet answer to this question is simply, Yes!
To illustrate why it is a great idea to continue getting acupuncture treatments after a health issue has been resolved, I’m going to invent an imaginary patient.
Let’s say that imaginary patient “John” decided to seek out acupuncture treatment to help him deal with his low back pain. When John first came in to get acupuncture, he said that his back pain was 8 out of 10 on the pain scale and was severely affecting his quality of life. He was unable to walk or stand for longer than a few moments, bending up and down was all but impossible, and he was frequently woken up at night because of the intensity of the pain. Needless to say, John was in need of relief so his life could resume.
After his first acupuncture session, the acupuncturist recommended that John receive 4-5 acupuncture treatments per week for 2 consecutive weeks. In general, the more severe the pain, the more frequently acupuncture should be received in a short period of time. This approach helps the patient to get pain relief very quickly so that quality of life can return to normal.
For those 2 weeks, John was very diligent about following the acupuncturist’s recommendation and went for treatment 5 days a week, each week. And at the end of that 2 weeks, his pain was down to a 2 out of 10 on the pain scale, a much more manageable pain level!
John was able to live life normally again after his 2 weeks of acupuncture treatments. He was able to go on long walks, bending over was not a problem and he was able to sleep through the night. Due to his good results, he stopped going in for acupuncture once his back pain issue was resolved. After all, why would anybody want to get acupuncture treatments if they don’t have a super pressing issue anymore?
What a lot of people fail to understand is that intense symptoms, such as John’s severe low back pain, are almost always just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to health. There’s almost always more going on with the body than meets the eye. The approach of getting a lot of acupuncture in a short period of time is a great way to get fast pain relief, but this method also functions more like a bandaid and it doesn’t do much for helping with all of the underlying stuff that is more than likely going on.
Acupuncture is a holistic medicine, meaning it treats the body as a whole. This is a different approach to traditional (allopathic) medicine, which focuses solely on treating symptoms. Most of us are familiar with the allopathic approach; you get sick, you go to the doctor, they give you medicine, you go home. With acupuncture, not only are the symptoms treated, but the root cause of the symptoms is treated as well.
The beauty of acupuncture, and where it really shines, is in its usefulness as a preventative medicine. The idea of preventative medicine is difficult for a lot of people to wrap their minds around, when we grow up in a society where allopathic medicine predominates and we only go to the doctor when there’s something wrong. But with acupuncture, not only can it help with severe issues (such as John’s low back pain), but it also helps to restore the body back to optimal health.
Acupuncture works to get the body out of sympathetic (fight or flight) mode and into parasympathetic (rest and digest) mode. It boosts endorphins (the feel good chemicals) and lowers cortisol levels (stress hormones). This in and of itself is why acupuncture is so effective at boosting the immune system and creating optimal health. But it is a gradual process that does not happen overnight, and only happens when a person gets continuous, regular acupuncture treatments.
So while it is totally fine to get the “quick fix” acupuncture treatments for pressing health concerns, as an acupuncturist I highly recommend continuing to receive treatment even after symptoms have resolved. This will allow your body time to really heal itself from the inside out. Immune function will improve, stress levels will be much lower, digestion will be easier, and that’s just for starters! You may be surprised at how many other issues you didn’t even know you had start to get better with continuous treatment!
Consider trying acupuncture as a preventative medicine! You only need to come in once a week, once every two weeks, once a month or even once a season to reap the benefits. Make your appointment on-line via our Scheduling page or give us a call @ (480) 206-6199.