Treating Pain

"I didn't realize how much pain I was in until after I left your office and didn't feel any!"

Last week, a patient suffering from sciatica shared this testimonial. It made me think about the nature of pain and what our brain does to mask it or, conversely, heighten it. Sometimes, we get used to having a particular pain, so it's almost as if our minds become numb to the pain sensations. Other times, our mind focuses on pain, worries about pain, and gets frustrated with pain. These things can make pain worse.

In Chinese Medicine, an old saying “bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong” means “no free flow, pain; free flow, no pain.” In essence, if you do not have free flow of energy and blood in the body, this leads to the perception of pain. When you reestablish free flow, then there is no pain.

Lots of things can block free flow- stuck blood, cold, heat, scar tissue, too much fluid, medical devices, stuck energy- and each cause has it's own treatment. Emotions can also cause blocked energy. Frustration and anger, in particular, affect the flow of Liver energy and cause it to get stuck. Since the Liver is in charge of free flow of energy in the whole body, this can mean big problems with circulation! The Liver is also the organ most affected by stress, or "unfulfilled desires." Any time you want something to be different, including pain, you are stressed, and this causes your energy to get stuck.

One way to get Liver energy moving is to do some deep breathing. Three deep breaths, exhaling with sound, is sometimes all it takes to get things moving. The action of the diaphragm helps to relieve the stuck Liver energy. Deep breathing that you do in Yoga and with vigorous exercise is great for this reason. Meditation which combines breathing and awareness is a fantastic way to manage pain.

Acupuncture is a great therapy to get energy moving, and some recent fMRI studies show that it changes the way the brain experiences pain. Most people that come into our office are experiencing some type of pain, and most people get great results after 1-2 treatments. Some people get long lasting results after just a few treatments while others continue treatments for pain management.

One patient always says "It's like the pain is lifted right out of me when I'm laying there in a treatment. I can’t afford not to come."

The Relationship Between Acupuncture & Dry Needling

The Relationship Between Acupuncture & Dry Needling
Clarifying Myths & Misinformation

by the American Society of Acupuncturists

Myth #1: Dry Needling is Not Acupuncture

Fact: Dry needling techniques are a subset of techniques used in orthopedic or myofascial acupuncture systems. Dry needling uses acupuncture needles and originators of dry needling identify it as acupuncture. That said, not all techniques being promoted as dry needling would be considered safe and delivered by competent trained acupuncture practitioners; therefore, the public should be wary.

Myth #2: Physical Therapists are Qualified to Perform Acupuncture/Dry Needling Because They Have Advanced Knowledge and Training in Anatomy

Fact: While physical therapists are highly trained experts in their field of physical rehabilitation, their eduction does not effectively include invasive techniques that penetrate the skin surface nor the vast body of information on using needling therapeutically. Licensed acupuncturists must have a degree from an accredited acupuncture school that requires more than 1300 hours of acupuncture specific training for entry-level competency. This includes anatomy relevant to safe acupuncture practice and supervised clinical training. Licensed acupuncturists also receive 450 hours or more of biomedical training. The applicant must subsequently pass five national, psychometrically valid and reliable exams to ensure minimal competency in needling, while the physical therapy community is in promulgating entry into this field with as little as 12-27 hours of unaccredited coursework. This level of disparity in training is likely to lead to patient injury. Additionally, the lack of standards is leading to the rapid expansion of a practice likely to harm more patients than help them.

Myth #3: Dry Needling Has Defined Standards Typical of a Professional Level Practice

Fact: There are no objectively determined standards of education, curriculum, standardized national examination, or requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) in place for dry needling. There are no standards for clinical mentorship. In short, there is no current definition of the practice referred to as dry needling and no standardized system of demonstrating either minimal competency or safety.

Myth #4: Dry Needling is Based on Anatomy While Acupuncture is Based on Energy

Fact: Classical acupuncture theory is based on the observation of humans in their environments, and treatment theory therefore reflects real-world situations that lead to injuries or illnesses that are identical to those observed in modern medicine. While classical theory organizes real-world information about the body differently than western science, it nonetheless describes the same organism with the same pathologies, and therefore bases diagnoses and treatments on anatomy which are compatible with western models. Mechanistic models of acupuncture’s effects have been researched along with the effects of acupuncture needle simulation on the nervous system, muscles, and connective tissue. Acupuncture channels reflect clinically observable and anatomically relevant interrelationships between body structures, including kinematic relationships.

Myth #5: Dry Needling Uses Trigger Points—Points That Are Uniquely Sensitive to Touch; Acupuncture Does Not

Fact: It has been estimated that 95% of trigger points correspond to acupuncture points. “Ashi point” needling is acupuncture trigger point needling, and this is described in Chinese medical texts dating from 200 BCE- 200 CE. For over 2000 years, Chinese medicine has treated these painful areas with acupuncture, tai na massage, heat, cupping, gua sha, and other methods. Trigger points are not a new discovery.

Myth #6: Dry Needling Involves Deep Insertion While Acupuncture Does Not

Fact: Many acupuncture points are needled with deep insertion technique. Each acupuncture point has specific indications for how it should be stimulated, and both shallow and deep techniques are used on many points.

Myth #7: The Scientific Literature Provides Evidence Supporting Dry Needling But Not Acupuncture

Fact: Meta-analyses of acupuncture data received a total of 20,827 patients from 39 trials to conclude that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain, with treatment effects persisting over time. Acupuncture is currently one of the most widely studied medical interventions, and much of the literature used to justify the clinical legitimacy of dry needling is drawn from acupuncture research studies.

For the full PDF and a list of sources, please click here.

New Hours! More Treatment Rooms! New Practitioners!

We've expanded!

It's been so busy at Emerging Energy renovating our office, but we are feeling settled in and have big news to share!

We now have 3 Doctors of Acupuncture available 6 days per week, an excellent massage therapist, and a holistic esthetician who also performs facial reflexology. (More about Alison and facial reflexology in another post!)

Our latest staff addition is acupuncturist Dr. Charlotte King, who has special training treating children with non-needle techniques. She also treats pain, women's health concerns and more. You can read all about her here. Dr. Charlotte also has extended evening hours on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Scheduling is available online!


Dr. Mary Claire Dilks has expanded office hours and is now booking Friday mornings/ lunch, 8:30am-12:30 pm. She also has a new standard poodle puppy, Lucy, who may make an appearance in the office from time to time.

Here at Emerging Energy, we love helping people feel their best. When we feel our best, our spirit shines in the sparkly in our eyes, our skin glows with radiant health, and we can relax and enjoy the moment without worry or stress. We would love to help YOU!

Our private treatment rooms, delicious tea, and serene environment allow you to fully benefit from your acupuncture, massage or facial treatment. Healing begins when our nervous system relaxes, so we think this part is critical in your care.

Call or schedule online today!