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Medical Acupunture

What does our service of Medical Acupuncture include if the patient needs it?

We devise a custom treatment plan for each patient. There are no additional costs for anything we provide to you, with the exception of any injections you wish to add to the treatment. Your treatment could possibly include the following:

  • A holistic Functional Medicine assessment and diagnosis
  • A custom Medical Acupuncture point selection
  • Dry Needling
  • Cupping (myofascial decompression)
  • Electrical Stimulation (TENs)
  • K Tape
  • Low Level Laser
  • Manual Therapy
  • Infrared Heat treatment

Why should I choose this service?

When in doubt, choose our Medical Acupuncture service. We schedule enough time to thoroughly go through your case and history, evaluate any possible treatment plans, and provide a varied and custom treatment for you right after your consultation. Medical Acupuncture works for almost any condition: Any pain condition both acute and chronic, any digestive, sleep, hormone, autoimmune problem. There are very few things we would suggest not coming in for Medical Acupuncture first. If you have a very complicated problem, especially if you don’t have a solid identified diagnosis, it might be best to come to see Dr. Fick for Functional Medicine first. There, we can establish a diagnosis and treatment plan so as that the Medical Acupuncture process is much more streamlined.

What is Traditional Acupuncture?

Traditional Acupuncture is a therapy based on balancing energy throughout the body. Needles are used on certain set places to either drain, balance, or increase the energy in the body and particular energy channels. Traditional Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine based on thousands’ year old textbooks including the HuangDi NeiJing.

What is Medical Acupuncture?

Medical Acupuncture is a therapy, based on the physiology and anatomy of the body. Needles are used to manipulate immune and chemical responses. Medical Acupuncture is research-backed and evidence-based holistic medicine.

How long will a Medical Acupuncture treatment take?

As a new patient, we will gather a ton of past and present medical history, make goals of our treatments, and identify a treatment plan and prognosis. We do our consults and treatments on the same day back to back, so you don’t need to come back for your first session. As a new patient, expect to be in our clinic for 60-90 minutes depending on complexity. The insertion of needles takes about 5 minutes, and once the needles are in place, each patient lays on the table, with the needles retained for 20-40 minutes. Every patient is given a pager in case anything is uncomfortable during that time. As a follow up patient, plan on being in our clinic for approximately 60 minutes, as we will ask some follow up questions each time we see you.

How does Medical Acupuncture and Traditional Acupuncture differ?

A Traditional Acupuncturist will diagnose a patient based on classic Chinese Medicine dysfunctions such as imbalances within an energetic organ system and do a treatment based on that Chinese Medicine Diagnosis.

A Medical Acupuncturist will diagnose a patient based on physiological imbalance, endocrine dysfunction, or an anatomical problem and do a treatment based on what research has determined works the best.

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a thousands’ year old medicine based on textbooks such as the HuangDi NeiJing (the Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine). Chinese Medicine takes a holistic approach to disease. Before the nervous system or hormones were discovered, the Chinese used the word “Qi” to describe anything that could cause problems and the concept of Yin and Yang to further identify issues. Analogies and synonyms are used to describe certain dysfunctions in Chinese Medicine. Chinese Medicine teaches that the expression of disease is based on a person's born constitution, their lifestyle and diet, their exposure and existence with nature, and their emotions. Diagnostic methods such as pulse examination, tongue inspection, and looking at someone's face and nails to identify imbalances help a Chinese Medicine practitioner figure out what the person’s diagnosis is. Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to medicine and disease. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, a practitioner not only looks at how disease happened to the person, but then uses antiquated approaches to treatment such as herbal medicine, acupressure/puncture, moxibustion (burning of the herb mugwort onto certain acupuncture points).

Treatment and Diagnosis differences in Traditional Chinese Medicine vs Western Medicine

A person might be diagnosed with an imbalance in a certain energy channel (let’s say the Lung channel) that was caused by a deficiency in Qi and Yin and given herbs, exercises, and acupuncture. In Western Medicine, that same person might be diagnosed with Asthma and given steroids.

Medical Acupuncture and Functional Medicine: The new version of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Medical Acupuncture is a system that takes what the old Traditional Chinese Acupuncture system proclaims, and rigorously tests the theories and mechanics with double-blinded research, functional MRI investigation, and other objective markers to pair down what kind of treatments work the best. A diagnosis is formed by assessing a person's physical/structural dysfunction, chemical imbalances, and metabolic dysfunction. We also use XRAY, MRIs, blood tests and physical exam to ensure the proper diagnosis.

In Medical Acupuncture we only use the points and treatments that show favorably in research and are evidence-based treatments. Some of these points and treatments might be similar to that of a treatment in the Traditional Chinese Acupuncture model because they proved positive results. Other treatments given in Medical Acupuncture are completely different from a treatment that might be given during a Traditional Chinese Acupuncture session.

During a Medical Acupuncture treatment, we still employ the same Traditional Chinese Medicine principles of looking at the body from a holistic standpoint but instead of using the idea of balancing Qi and Traditional Chinese diagnosis, we use Western Medical terms and diagnostics. This is Functional Medicine. We ask the patient about their physical body and any pain they might be experiencing, any mechanical problems including weakness or balance problems. We will assess for clicking and popping, redness, swelling or structural changes. We ask the patient about their other symptoms that can increase inflammation such as digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, and hormonal problems. We discuss sleep, stress, and energy habits and dysfunction. Eye, ear, nose, throat and head problems are all discussed. Often more than 30 different possible areas of complaints are assessed. We like to know what each person's dietary and exercise habits are and any occupational hazards. We will request and use recent imaging including XRAYS, MRIs and EMG results as well as taking an in-depth look at each person's blood tests. These help us identify what the core problem is and the symptoms arising from those issues. We devise a complete treatment strategy which includes helping reduce symptoms that are causing daily problems as well as addressing the core problem which is what is a true holistic approach. This is a holistic view on disease, just as Traditional Chinese Medicine does, but with a modern understanding and treatment of the body.

Who practices Medical Acupuncture?

Special training is needed to provide Medical Acupuncture. Licensed Acupuncturists provide this service, however, not all Acupuncturists are trained in Medical Acupuncture. Medical Doctors and Chiropractors have an option to do a very abbreviated course in Traditional Acupuncture. Physical Therapists are never allowed to practice acupuncture but they are allowed to take an abbreviated course in Dry Needling, which has been legally defined as different to Acupuncture, but in practice, Dry Needling has always been a part of Acupuncture.

Difference between Medical Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Medical Acupuncture is the insertion of a needle near a nerve to provoke a change in the immune system to change the physiology of the body. Dry Needling is defined as inserting a needle into a tight muscle knot, called a Trigger Point. Recently, in the state of Colorado, it has become more commonplace for Physical Therapists to be inserting needles into acupuncture points (designated areas near nerves) as a part of what they are still calling Dry Needling. But simply, Medical Acupuncture is needling near nerves, while Dry Needling is needling into a muscle knot.

Treatment principles of Medical Acupuncture

A Medical Acupuncture protocol is mindfully designed with several potential goals in mind:

  1. Changing the Hypothalamic/Pituitary/Adrenal endocrine axis by needling in areas that make measurable changes in certain hormones.
  2. Treat Motor imbalances for post stroke, Parkinsons, and brain injury by needling larger nerve fibers to stimulate certain targeted areas of the brain.
  3. Affect the Autonomic nervous system to stimulate the Sympathetic nerve chains to speed up organ function, or to stimulate the Parasympathetic nerve chains including the tenth cranial nerve, the vagal branch, to slow down autonomic organ function.
  4. To stimulate local and systemic immune cytokines that combat allergies, weakened overall immune system, or challenge autoimmunity.
  5. To induce microtraumas to help boost collagen for torn muscles or for cosmetic problems such as wrinkles.
  6. To change pain receptors by needling the corresponding dermatomal central nervous system, and needling the local area of pain, and needling the nerves of the peripheral nervous system most distal to the area of pain. This “central, local, distal” theory of the treatment of pain helps stimulate the “opioid peptide metabolism” to help reduce/rid pain for good.
  7. To stimulate the nervi vasorum, or the nerves around blood vessels, to regulate blood circulation, blood pressure, and lymphatic flow.
  8. To have a mixture of, or to attempt to help drive down patients’ current and most pressing symptoms, and/or to treat the root cause of their dysfunction.

Another note on Dry Needling

As seen above, Medical Acupuncture takes a comprehensive approach to conditions. Dry Needling is a very short treatment to help only the local problem. If someone has, let’s say elbow pain, and we do Dry Needling on the elbow, we are helping that person’s immediate pain by relieving an impinged nerve from a tight muscle knot, but we are not treating the potential core/root cause of their pain. Their core/root cause of their elbow pain could be coming from their neck, it could be coming from a B12 deficiency, or plenty of other issues. Dry Needling is a quick and easy treatment to help with pain but does not usually address the core problem, nor does the effectiveness of Dry Needling typically last as long as Medical Acupuncture (due to the Opioid Peptide Metabolism).

How does Medical Acupuncture actually work?

Medical Acupuncture is the use of a patented medical device - a stainless steel filiform (non-hollow) acupuncture needle. This clever tool is used to excite certain nerves, induce a chemical reaction both locally and in the brain, increase blood flow, contract or relax organs and their functions, and build collagen.

The acupuncture needle inserted at specific areas near nerves causes an alert from local immune cells, which then relay that potential threat message all the way up the peripheral nerves, to the spinal cord, and up into the brain. The brain gets excited and responds to the message that there is a needle in the body by releasing self-soothing hormones, pain-relieving substrates and anti-inflammatory cells. Once those hormones, substrates and cells reach the site of the acupuncture needle, the area of pain is reduced or hormones are stimulated. If the process of Medical Acupuncture is given enough times in a short period of time (usually three treatments in three weeks), the body starts to do this process on it’s own because it is prepared for it. This is a way to trip/stimulate the metabolism in our brains, called an Opioid Peptide Metabolism. Acupuncture helps tell your body/brain to stimulate the types of cells we are aiming to stimulate and have it do it on its own. This is why patients who receive acupuncture a few times eventually have their pain or symptoms be relieved for good.

How many treatments do people need for symptom relief and to make their problems go away for good?

How fast a person responds depends on many factors. If the patient and practitioner have successfully determined the core cause of the problem, and the treatment given is not too light and not too strong then the patient will have a better chance of a positive outcome. In order for acupuncture to be effective, we must have enough certain amino acids, vitamins and minerals present circulating in our system to help carry the signal up to the brain. Endorphins, specifically enkephalins, are targeted to stimulate during acupuncture for pain relief; If a person has a condition that already uses up a lot of endorphins such as Depression, Parkinsons, Huntingtons, Irritable Bowel, Alcoholism, or they eat a diet with low amounts of copper, they might need more treatments that are stronger. Certain neurotransmitters (brain hormones) also help with the outcome of the treatment. If a person is low in serotonin or tryptophan, they might need more treatments. Medical Acupuncture will use these substrates (amino acids, vitamins, minerals, endorphins/enkephalins, and serotonin and tryptophan) then the brain will produce and make more after acupuncture. This is called an Opioid Peptide Metabolism. This positive feedback system is helpful for conditions listed above that make people weaker responders to acupuncture. It certainly doesn't mean people with less amino acids, endorphins and neurotransmitters wont respond to acupuncture, they just need a stronger treatment. All these things are taken into account when consulting with a patient. Ultimately, we don’t know how someone is going to respond until we try.

As a good rule of thumb, we recommend coming in as soon as symptoms appear (the more chronic a problem, the harder it is to treat), and coming at least three times within three weeks to help boost this Opioid Peptide Metabolism.