How does acupuncture approach healthcare?

earth acu txtAcupuncture and East Asian medicine provides a valuable addition to your healthcare routine. Many patients try it for the first time due to pain that won’t resolve, or because a friend recommended it. Not knowing what to expect, patients are often surprised that acupuncture can treat a wide variety of health concerns, and is a complete medical system.

When talk about getting acupuncture, they are often talking about receiving East Asian medical care. What’s the difference? Acupuncture is just one treatment modality that an East Asian Medical Practitioner or Licensed Acupuncturist uses in your treatment. Your EAMP or L.AC (different titles based on what state you live in) is trained in cupping therapy, moxibustion, guasha techniques, nutrition based on East Asian medicine, and East Asian herbal therapy as well as acupuncture. Treatment will often utilize one or many of these healing techniques to bring you back to wellness.

How does an acupuncturist approach an illness or health condition? 

The truly remarkable aspect about East Asian medicine is the individualized care that it entails. Regardless as to whether you are coming in for a recent rotator cuff injury, chronic low back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, or an autoimmune disorder, such as lupus, your practitioner will look at what individual reasons led to you developing that condition. In other words, everyone with a rotator cuff injury does not receive the exact same treatment, because even in sports injuries, the underlying reason why your shoulder was susceptible to an injury is often individualized. This is exceptionally true for other conditions like chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, other gastrointestinal conditions, emotional distress, women’s health, and autoimmune disorders.

When a patient comes to an acupuncturist for the first time, the acupuncturist acts as a detective, attempting to learn what patterns are going on inside your body. Is a specific organ system not pulling its weight, and causing others to overwork? Is there a lack of vitality in your overall energy, or your blood? Or is there too much heat or inflammation in your system? This may sound strange, but it leads to a highly individualized treatment plan that informs your acupuncture point selection and other modalities of care. Certain conditions will benefit from acupuncture and herbal medicine, as well as some nutritional advice based on the classic theories of East Asian medicine. Other patterns will do very well with acupuncture alone.

Individualized plans offer exceptional ways back to health

This individual approach is exciting, because your practitioner can talk with you specifically about you, your health, and how to return to ideal health. It also allows you and your practitioner to look at how to become preventative towards future illnesses. Once you have addressed the initial concern that brought you to acupuncture in the first place, you can learn how to incorporate certain lifestyle changes, and nutrition strategies that will prevent certain illnesses from returning or starting. This information comes from the detective work that your provider already performed. For instance, if you struggle with fatigue besides a rotator cuff injury, the practitioner will look at what system or systems is leading to that sense of fatigue throughout the day. Simply timing meals differently, or learning how to create some mental time off, may fix the fatigue, or it may require a little more acupuncture or herbal intervention to rehabilitate those organ systems causing the fatigue.

In the end, you will learn how to use simple lifestyle changes and food or cooking techniques to keep your health and quality of life strong. The main goal of individualized care in East Asian medicine is to give more tools to our patients, in order to protect your quality of life.


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Lindsey Thompson is an East Asian Medicine Practitioner at the Thompson Family Acupuncture Clinic in Walla Walla, WA. She loves growing vegetables, raising chickens, and striving to get the most out of life. Practicing medicine and help people find ways to improve their health at home is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her career.
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