American College of Physicians list Acupuncture as top Treatment for Back Pain

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Here are some excerpts from this week’s Wall Street Journal article explaining the latest recommendations from the American College of Physicians on the treatment of Back Pain.  They list Acupuncture as the top choice for both acute and chronic back pain.

Skip the meds. Lower back pain—one of the most common reasons for a doctor’s visit—is best treated with alternative therapies, say new guidelines from the American College of Physicians. About 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes and it is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days.

The new guidelines could influence how doctors treat patients with complaints of back pain. They are an update from 2007’s and include a review of more than 150 studies. Recommendations were broken down into acute lower back pain, which is pain lasting less than 12 weeks, and chronic pain, which is pain lasting more than 12 weeks.

For acute pain, the guidelines recommend nondrug therapies first, such as applying heat, massage, acupuncture or spinal manipulation, which is often done by a chiropractor.

For chronic back pain, the guidelines recommend patients also first try nondrug therapies, such as acupuncture, exercise, rehabilitation therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

The reviews focused on improving pain and function If such treatments fail to provide relief, the ACP says NSAIDS should be the first medicine that is used. The third line of treatment should be duloxetine—sold under the brand name Cymbalta and commonly used to treat depression and anxiety—or tramadol, an opioid-like narcotic which is less potent than standard opioids such as oxycodone or fentanyl—but can still cause physical dependence.

Opioids—one of the most commonly prescribed medications for pain relief and a source of increasing addiction and death—should only be considered for chronic back pain when other alternatives—natural and prescription—don’t work, say the guidelines published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The new guidelines warn that opioids should only be considered an option if the doctor and patient have a discussion about the known risks of the drugs, and if used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest period. Experts believe that opioid prescriptions for pain is a common gateway to opioid addiction as well as transitioning to heroin, said Steven Atlas, director of practice-based research at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Even acetaminophen, which includes the brand name Tylenol, is no longer recommended for acute lower back pain relief due to a 2014 study in the journal The Lancet that showed it was no more effective than placebo.

Pain can begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy. More often, though, it develops over time due to age-related changes of the spine and disc degeneration.  Most back pain occurs between ages 30 and 50. Individuals who gain weight and don’t exercise have increased risk, as are those who exercise intensely after long periods of not exercising.

If you are in Orlando and have Back Problems call our clinic for a Free Consultation appointment at our Winter Park office to see if Acupuncture can help you!  If you live outside of Central Florida feel free to call us for a referral in your local area.

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Acupuncture Treats Rheumatoid Arthritis

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While preparing a presentation for the annual Juvenile Arthritis conference, I came across a great article by the Arthritis Foundation called, Can Acupuncture help Relieve RA?  The article presents the results of several research studies that show that acupuncture does indeed help to relieve the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis as well as Osteoarthritis.  The article details acupuncture effects to reduce pain in both the central nervous system (the brain), as well as the peripheral nervous system (the rest of the body, including the joints).

The article not only explains the particulars of how acupuncture relieves arthritis pain, but it also explains how acupuncture has been shown to lower chemical markers of chronic inflammation. One such marker that was reduced in the acupuncture group in the study is called TNF-α. This research suggests that acupuncture has the potential to slow down the progression of the disease.  Dr. Nathan Wei, MD, director of the Arthritis Treatment Center in Frederick, MD. explains. “In particular, TNF-α appears to play a pivotal role in the chronic inflammation and joint destruction that characterizes RA. That’s why so many of the biologic medications such as Enbrel, Humira, and  Remicade target TNF-α.

The article goes on to cite other studies where acupuncture has been shown to reduce other markers of inflammation.  It also mentions a very interesting statistic. In a 2010 Mayo Clinic survey, 54 percent of rheumatologists said they would recommend acupuncture as an adjunct treatment.

The article quotes Jamie Starkey, LAc, the lead acupuncturist for the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, and Jeffrey I. Gold, PhD, director of the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at a Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles who treats patients with juvenile arthritis.  It gives people a real idea about the process of acupuncture treatment.  It is not a onetime thing.  It takes a series of treatments to get good results, but the success rate they report is about 80%, which is very similar to what we see in our clinic, Orlando Acupuncture.

If you know someone, young or old, who is suffering from arthritis please share this blog post with them and encourage them to talk to an acupuncturist to see if acupuncture might help them.

To learn more about our clinic, Orlando Acupuncture , please visit our website. You can also give us a call for a Free Consultation to see if we can help.

Find Headache and Migraine Relief That Lasts

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The month of June is National Headache and Migraine Awareness month which made me want to write a blog post regarding the reasons we get headaches and migraines and what we can determine by paying attention to the symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic there are two classifications of headaches. There are Primary headaches and Secondary headaches. A Primary headache is the most common and is typically caused from: stress, a skipped meal, dehydration, lack of or change in sleep, high blood pressure, alcohol, or something you ate. Primary headaches are not due to an underlying disease in the body, they are due to lifestyle factors. These headaches are a sign your body is sending as a way to inform you that something is wrong.

If you are getting headaches regularly but know that it isn’t due to one of the lifestyle factors listed above, it could very well be a sign from your body that there is a larger underlying issue at hand. Secondary headaches are a symptom of a disease that can activate the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. Any number of conditions – varying greatly in severity – may cause Secondary headaches.  These headaches are important to pay attention to. Most people suffering from these types of headaches will grab any over-the-counter medication to help with the pain, while others will go see a neurologist for consultation, advice, and of course prescription pills. What if these headaches and migraines could be effectively treated without the need for pills or costly specialists?

Surprisingly for people in the Western world, acupuncture has been used for treating migraines and headaches for the last 2,500+ years and now it has taken a foothold in the medical community. According to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, “Acupuncture helps reduce days with migraines and may have lasting effects.”  While there are many undesirable effects associated with medication and traditional treatments, acupuncture has no associated side effects at all, which gives the patient a sense of hope. The better news, however, is that many migraine patients express a sense of relief after receiving a acupuncture treatment, and many more say that continual acupuncture sessions can lessen the intensity and frequency of these intense and painful headaches. This is very exciting news for those suffering!

If you want to learn more about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you get rid of your headaches or migraines for good, visit our website or give us a call for a Free Consultation.

Research finds that Acupuncture Relieves Chronic Stress

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According to The American Institute of Stress, there are over 50 common signs and symptoms of stress. From things as small as headaches and grinding of the teeth  to things as large as frequent colds and heart palpitations. While stress is something we cannot really avoid, learning how to handle our stress is especially important to our overall health and well-being.

A new study done by Ladan Eshkevari, the assistant program director of the nurse anesthesia program at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, found that stimulating certain body points with acupuncture can alter stress hormones.

The body’s stress response is triggered by two main pathways, one is the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis) in which these areas of the brain are activated to release peptides and proteins such as CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone). They then launch the production of other hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine that rev up the anxiety meter. Once these are activated, the system causes the heart to beat faster and the senses to go on alert. It also diverts the body’s energy away from other operations such as digestion to prime and fuel the muscles into a state of readiness.

All of this is normal and necessary for protecting ourselves from potential threats. However when stress becomes chronic and starts beating us down, it is no longer helpful and can become harmful. We will start to see long term symptoms such as memory impairment, depression, digestive problems, obesity, sleep problems, and heart disease.

However, in Eshkevari controlled experiment it was found that when the subjects were pre-treated with acupuncture there was no spike in stress-associated hormones after they were exposed to chronic stress. In the stressed subjects that received acupuncture, stress hormone levels were similar to those in the control subjects that were not under chronic stress, which suggests the ancient healing modality helps to normalize stress hormone levels.

For those of us already receiving regular acupuncture treatments, we know that it helps relieve the unavoidable stress that comes our way. However, it is great to now have the science to back it up.

If you are thinking of trying acupuncture for stress relief, know that everyone responds to treatment in different ways, so the number of sessions required can vary. Experts in the field recommend a minimum of one session per week for five to eight weeks, and patients often start to feel an immediate reduction in stress after just one session.

At Orlando Acupuncture we offer a Free Initial Consultations with a Chinese Pulse Diagnosis to find out the best treatment plan for your health and your budget. When looking for the right Acupuncturist make sure this is something that is offered to you. If a clinic you are looking into doesn’t offer this, or something like this, you may want to keep looking.

To learn more about acupuncture please visit our website.

Wishing you much health and happiness.

Sources: www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/16/acupuncture-could-help-prevent-stress_n_2883996.html, healthland.time.com/2013/03/15/needle-this-study-hints-at-how-acupuncture-works-to-relieve-stress/, www.foxnews.com/health/2014/02/28/relieve-stress-naturally-with-acupuncture/, www.stress.org/stress-effects/, http://www.articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/30/acupuncture-benefits.aspx

FDA issues warning about common pain injections. What you need to know.

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One of the most popular treatments for neck, back, and joint pains —steroid injections—can be dangerous, and in rare cases can cause paralysis and death according to a warning issued by the FDA  in April, 2014.  Considering that approximately 4 in 10, or 75 million, Americans live with chronic pain (back pain, arthritis, joint pain, tendonitis, shoulder pain, nerve pain, overuse injuries etc) this warning should be big news, but few people know about the risks of these treatments.

The FDA is late to the game when it comes to concern about the safety of the shots when they’re injected into the spine. In other parts of the world tougher restrictions on the use of corticosteroids in the neck and back are already on labels. Patient advocates and researchers who have identified safety concerns with the injections have been pushing the FDA for years to take action.

As early as 2007, a survey of doctors in the journal Spine uncovered 78 cases of patients who received steroid injections in the neck suffering serious injuries, including 13 deaths. In other cases, the injections have been linked to loss of vision or paralysis in patients. The agency said in late 2011 that it was studying safety issues related to the shots and yesterday indicated it first became concerned in 2009. Yet it took five years to issue the 322-word warning.

Sandy Walsh, an FDA spokeswoman, said that the warning is the result of an ongoing effort to understand the causes of “serious neurologic events” with the injections and identify ways to minimize them.  Dennis Capolongo, a patient advocate who has been pushing for more aggressive restrictions on the steroids, said while the warning from the FDA is appreciated, it is too mild and comes too late. Doctors in the U.S. administer about 9 million epidural injections a year. “Many people have been harmed in the interim,” he said of the years the FDA has been studying the issue. Capolongo said organizations representing patients who have suffered serious side effects from the shots are pushing the FDA to require labels on the steroids indicating they should not be used at all for epidural injections.  The agency is also convening an advisory committee of experts to determine if further action is needed.

The FDA action also highlights a harsh reality. Conventional treatments for back, neck, and joint pains remain an imperfect science. Steroid injections and prescription medications provide mostly temporary benefits, and bring risks.  Surgeries, like spinal fusion, are more invasive, and don’t always work.

Alternative options such as Acupuncture and Biopuncture offer significant results with fewer side effects.

Be sure to leave thoughts, questions, and comments below!

Research shows that Artificial Sweeteners increase blood sugar, May lead to Diabetes

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The journal Nature has recently published an article that shows that artificial sweeteners increase blood sugar, and may lead to type 2 diabetes as directly as eating sugar does. The use of artificial sweeteners has been a contentious topic for decades. The new research, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, finds that differences in gut microbes may explain why some people can handle artificial sweeteners just fine while for others the sweeteners lead to blood sugar problems.

The human digestive system is home to millions of microbes, largely bacteria, that help digest food and play a major role in one’s health.

Eran Elinav, who studies the link between an individual’s immune system, gut microbes and health at the Weizmann Institute admitted that his research has soured him on sweetening the coffee he needs to get through his day.  “I’ve consumed very large amounts of coffee and extensively used sweeteners, thinking that they were at least not harmful and perhaps even beneficial,” Elinav said at a telephone news conference Tuesday. “Given the surprising result we got in our study, I made a decision to stop using artificial sweeteners.”

Artificial sweeteners are not digested, so it was assumed that there would be no way for them to lead to diabetes. Microbes commonly found in the human gut, however, seem to be affected by these indigestible sugars.  In a series of experiments in mice and people, the researchers examined the interaction between gut microbes and consumption of the sweeteners aspartame (found in NutraSweet and Equal), sucralose (found in Splenda) and saccharine (found in Sweet’n Low). Depending on the types of microbes they had in their intestines, some people and mice saw a two to fourfold increase in blood sugars after consuming the artificial sweeteners for just a short time. These increased levels of blood sugar can easily lead to diabetes over time.

Researchers began by testing the three widely used sweeteners in mice. Some mice got one of the artificial sweeteners in their water, and others got sugar water or just water. After 11 weeks, researchers gave all the mice a dose of sugar and monitored the response in their blood sugar levels.

“The magnitude of the differences were not just a few percentages. These were very dramatic differences,” said Eran Segal, a study co-author who is a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute.

A diet study of 400 people found that those who consumed the most artificial sweeteners were more likely to have problems controlling blood sugar.

In another part of the study, researchers gave seven individuals a high dose of saccharin, 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, the Food and Drug Administration’s maximum daily intake, for 6 consecutive days.  Four of these individuals also began showing signs of glucose intolerance.  The researchers report suggested that artificial sweeteners “may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact [diabetes] epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight.”

So next time you want a diet drink reach for a water and add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime.

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando? Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

sources: Karen Weintraub,  USA TODAY 9/18/14  Nature.com

Acupuncture keeps Pitchers in the game

Acupuncture Pitcher
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As acupuncture becomes more mainstream even the Texas Rangers are going with acupuncture to keep pitcher Yu Darvish in the lineup. Davish was Scratched from baseball due to neck pain and stiffness, but he used acupuncture to get back on the mound. There is plenty of research that explains why acupuncture is so popular among professional athletes. A study of 60 patients with cervical spondylosis responded with a 98.3% total effective rate as a result of acupuncture treatment. A total of 43 of the 60 patients were completely cured. Another 16 patients demonstrated significant improvement. The researchers concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of cervical spondylosis and is both “reliable” and “worthy of promotion.”

Acupuncture has been found to improve muscle mass. Research demonstrates that acupuncture “recovered the skeletal muscle mass” and “ameliorated skeletal muscle atrophy by affecting mRNA” Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish is following a time honored sports tradition and is staying ahead of the competition by using the most appropriate medicine possible to keep his arm in shape. He is not the only pitcher to get the acupuncture advantage.

A.J. Burnett waited to sign with the New York Yankees until they agreed to hire a team acupuncturist. Burnett knows how to protect an investment – his arm! He went from from one of baseball’s most injury-plagued players into one of its most reliable, a drastic change he attributes to his use of acupuncture. On a pitching staff that featured renowned grinders such as CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, Burnett was the only member of the Yankees rotation who didn’t miss a single inning to injury. “I found that I responded really well to the acupuncture, how that treated my body and my nerves, and the release of stress,” Burnett said.

San Francisco Giants pitcher Randy Johnson had one of the longest baseball careers in history and received acupuncture from the team acupuncturist. Morten Anderson, former field goal kicker for the Atlanta Falcons, received two acupuncture treatments per week as part of his ongoing healthcare program. He retired from professional football at age 48 as the NFL’s leading scorer. How many people can last that long in the NFL? Acupuncture helped to maintain the integrity of his priceless foot.

Gymnast Nastia Liukin took home a gymnastics women’s all-around Olympic gold medal after using acupuncture for the treatment of an ankle injury. Other athletes using acupuncture during their professional careers include: Joe Montana, Michael Strahan, Dwayne Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Kidd, Vladimir Radmonovic, Fred Couples, Gary Player, Kevin Johnson, Steve Nash, Charles Barkley, Hot Rod Williams, Jeff Hornacek and Grant Hill.

Want to learn more about Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Health, or Natural Pain Relief in Orlando? Check out our website: OrlandoAcupuncture.com

Sources: India Song-Jie. “Analysis acupuncture shoulder and neck muscles to treating the starting and ending point.” Clinical research 6 (2014).
Li. “Vertebral artery type cervical spondylosis clinical observation 60 cases electro-acupuncture treatment.” TCM Clinical Research 7 (2014).
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Volume 410, Issue 3, 8 July 2011, Pages 434–439. Acupuncture ameliorated skeletal muscle atrophy induced by hindlimb suspension in mice. A. Ondaa, et al
http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1319-texas-rangers-back-with-acupuncture#sthash.2ohOepFi.dpuf
http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2010/05/yankees_starter_aj_burnett_cre.html