People often ask me what the most common condition is that I see, and while I see a wide variety of issues, I would have to say that orthopedic conditions are the number one reason why people come in. Within that, back pain is far and away the most common complaint. In fact, most surveys of primary care physicians find that back pain is the number one or number two most common reason why people come in (insomnia is usually number one or number two as well).
As so often happens in my practice, I get the latest news on a given condition or procedure from my patients. In the age of the Internet, it seems that nearly anybody who is curious about a given subject may find information on it on the web, though there is also a lot of misinformation out there. Just the other day, hey patient with a history of back pain referred me to an article in the Wall Street Journal about the benefits of functional restoration as an alternative to many of the more invasive procedures often given as the standard of care for back pain. Rather than summarize the article, I am pasting it here to share with you (http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-help-for-back-pain-1448311243?mod=e2fb).
When people ask what kinds of conditions we treat in our clinic, my usual response is that most of our patients have tried many other modalities first, before they are ready to try acupuncture. This is especially true of people in chronic pain, who may have already been through western medical procedures, cortisone shots, surgeries, medications, and physical therapy before they arrive in our clinic. For those in pain, there is a lot of research out there on the etiology and pathogenesis of pain-related syndromes and what we can do about them.
A good friend who happens to be a physical therapist recently made me aware of the following 5-minute clip from Australia, which explains not only pain syndromes, but what we can do about them. Check it out–quite creative, and informative:
The National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has a site up now that provides qualified ‘facts’ on using acupuncture for pain, with a real focus on the evidence to support it. If you’re interested in using acupuncture for pain relief, check out the NIH’s site at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/acupuncture-for-pain.htm.
People who engage in Zen meditation do feel pain, new research reveals, but they don’t think about it as much.The observation could have a bearing on the treatment of chronic pain among patients struggling with the impact of conditions such as arthritis and back pain.
The findings are from a recent study in the medical journal Pain. Compared with an equal number of non-meditating study participants, the researchers found that highly experienced meditators reported lower pain responses, as well as less activity in those parts of the brain (the prefrontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus) that are linked to cognitive processes, emotion and memory.
For a more complete summary of this article, click here.
A study in Nature Neuroscience published just yesterday (May 30, 2010) shows one possible mechanism of pain relief through acupuncture: the release of adenosine. Adenosine is a very potent anti-inflammatory compound and most chronic pain is caused by inflammation.