A patient came in today with lower back pain. When she got onto the table, I saw this familiar pattern: Take a look at her ankles. Before I started work, both of them looked like the “before” (left) side. This tendency for the foot to turn in is called “ankle supination.” It can be caused by many things, but in her case she had some fascial adhesions on the medial (inside) ankle.
The way our feet strike the ground affects the entire chain … the ankle, the knee, the hips, the back. In extreme cases, a dysfunctional gait can even affect your neck! I knew I needed to address her ankle supination for long-term back improvement. Having canted ankles can also contribute to more foot movement inside the shoe and create blisters / calluses.
After acupuncture to treat her back pain, we did some medical massage. I reset the the function of her back muscles and finished with some myofascial release on the medial ankles. After I worked on the left, the difference was so striking I wanted to share it. Of course after I snapped the evidence pic, I went on to correct the right ankle, too.
When she stood up, she felt good, but a little unsteady. This is normal – she was used to the adhesions doing the work of stabilizing for her. I instructed her to go for a little walk. Now that the musculoskeletal system is corrected, light movement will provide feedback between the brain and muscles. They will reintegrate, and start doing the supporting they’ve been neglecting. Typically, at the end of this walk my patients tell me they feel terrific!
Sit or lie down and take a look at how your feet are aligned at rest. Do they curve in (ankle supination)? Out (ankle pronation)? Or maybe just one is crooked? If the answer to any of those is yes, come see me, and let me help you straighten out your gait! :)
Purely coincidentally, I’ve had two patients in the past two days with the exact same complaint: Lightheadedness / confusion / disassociation from the body. One had gone to get an MRI and X- rays, but everything came back fine. One had severe neck pain, one didn’t.
Both had had dental work recently. Imagine lying back at an awkward angle for a long time, while tense…. Sure enough, both had upper cervical (neck) vertebrae out of place. The bones were cutting off the blood supply to the brain!
I treated both with acupuncture and medical massage, relaxing the muscles and gently easing the vertebrae back into place. Both patients reported instant improvement. Please remember this next time you have a headache / confusion following dental work, or any other stress on your neck.
Last weekend was a full two days of continuing ed – 5 classes! Two were based in Chinese philosophy: Ghost points (used here to treat intrusive thoughts, or “haunting” memories) and Korean 4 needle technique, which is based on the elements. Those two weren’t really clicking with me, but I thoroughly enjoyed the three on Sunday. One covered the energetics of food, and how to adjust your ingredients to match your health needs and the seasons. One covered important legal aspects of running a practice (HIPAA, security, malpractice, etc). But the best one covered my favorite topic of all – the nervous system. Keep an eye out for a followup post that will explain in detail, but the short version is this: In chronic pain conditions, the brain thinks you are being continually damaged, and amplifies its reporting of pain above what’s physically happening in your body. By understanding the how and why of this, we can stop the ramping up and quiet the alarm bells. This both reduces the amount of pain you perceive in the moment, and allows the movement you need to heal. I’m really excited about incorporating this into both my practice and my personal life.
I’ve put this off for a long time… I’ve only raised my rates once (6 years ago) since I started practicing 15 years ago. I prefer to stay accessible to *all* people, but my rent keeps going up and my student loans are still horrific. So, starting July 1st, my new rates (which remain on the low end for my industry) will be as follows:
An hour of acupuncture and medical massage: $100
4 pack of hour sessions: $360 ($40 off)
A half hour of acupuncture OR medical massage: $60
5-pack of half hours: $270 ($30 off)
Birthday hours will retain their $20 discount, for $80. Smoking cessation and Returning Veteran treatments will still be free.
Any packages purchased at the old rates will be honored. In fact, feel free to stock up before July 1st, if you like. Thank you, and I look forward to serving you all for the next 15 years!
Tinnitus (ringing or roaring in the ears) is one of the few things I can’t reliably treat with acupuncture. It can be mildly irritating or absolutely maddening, depending on the frequency, volume, and pitch.
Here’s a use-at-home method that just requires your hands. I can’t test it personally since I don’t suffer from tinnitus, but two of my friends who do reported this gave them temporary relief. I suspect it has to do with the impact affecting the vagus nerve. Anyway, here’s the video: Good luck!
Explaining your PhD thesis with interpretive dance sounds like a joke, but every year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science hosts the contest and doles out $2500 worth in prizes to the winners in four categories: physics, chemistry, biology and social sciences. This is a lovely visualization of the magic that happens inside us… The others are wonderful, too, and you can see them here.
NOTE: I am not getting paid by Instant Pot (or Amazon), nor do I have any other reason for this post other than to make it quicker and easier for you to cook healthy food at home. I work long hours, and sometimes I lack the energy / time to cook a traditional dinner. The Instant Pot ensures we eat out less, which saves us both cash and calories.
An Instant Pot is a digital pressure cooker. It’s well engineered to be safe and simple to use, unlike the terrifying stove pressure cooker my Mom used to make jelly when I was a kid. There are a few other brands out there that make similar machines, and if you have one of those you can use these same recipes with minimal changes in fluid amount and times.
The IP can:
Make hard boiled eggs that peel like a dream, even when fresh.
In the past, when people called me with a cold, I told them to come in. Acupuncture is great for the immune system! In the last few years, I have changed my policy. I now prefer you stay home if you’re contagious (how long is that?). I have patients who are immune-compromised*. This means I want to prevent their exposure, and also that I can’t work if I am sick at all – and losing a week or more of income is pretty rough (despite all the kitty snuggles).
So – here are some handy dandy acupressure points you can use for yourself. In all cases, press firmly with a fingertip for a few seconds, on both left and right sides. Continue reading →
You may have seen the news coverage of Michael Phelps and other Olympic athletes getting cupping. What the heck is it and how does it work?
Despite what that ridiculous article says, it IS ancient Chinese traditional medicine. The Chinese have been using heated cups for millennia. Practitioners warm the air inside the cup, then place it on the skin. A seal is formed. As the air cools, a vacuum is created. Standing cups are left in place. Another technique, moving cupping, involves sliding the cups around without breaking the seal. In both cases, the point is for the vacuum to separate the layers of skin and muscle and break up fascial adhesions.
Yes, it absolutely works! The reason I don’t do it in my office is that the dark circles are actually bruises – they are visual proof of broken capillaries bleeding under the skin. The vacuum created in cupping is strong enough that it does a little damage along with the good. I personally prefer to use myofacial release to break up the adhesions, sticking to the rule of “First, do no harm.” I get the same great results without any blood vessel trauma.
Next time you’re in the office, ask to see the cupping equipment. I keep a few cups around because they’re great conversation starters and they are beautiful, but sometimes modern innovation can provide a better solution.