A 35-year old woman feels pain and muscle tension on her upper trapezius, neck, and back. According to her, sitting for 8 hours is the reason why she feels stiff all over her back and upper body. Every now and then, she would get headaches on the back of her skull, around the temple and eye area.
When she is busy and feels stressed from work, she gets irritable easily. She also mentioned that her mood swings get worse before her period, along with breast tenderness and painful cramps. Recently, she has little or no appetite and she starts to feel fatigued at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. As she sits on the chair while explaining her condition, she sighs a lot.
How can acupuncture help with this problem?
This woman came to the clinic for her muscle pain and tension, which will be focused on by the clinician. However, acupuncture based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theories not only addresses the main problem, but also looks at her body as a whole by finding the underlying cause of her complaints, which may not always be the physical manifestations of pain and tension.
What is the root of the problem?
In this case, it is stress. According to TCM theories, emotional tensions such as stress prevents the qi (energy) and blood from flowing freely. Therefore, when the qi and blood are stagnated, it causes imbalances in the body which may manifest as pain, such as muscle tension, headaches, and PMS symptoms. Further, when this "stuck" energy accumulates, it may manifest as bursts of anger or emotional heaviness (hence the sighing).
What role does acupuncture play in rehabilitation of this case?
Through the insertion of needles, the body is stimulated to heal itself. The needle acts like a "traffic warden," redirecting traffic (i.e. stagnated qi and blood) to flow freely. This increase in blood flow allows the body to heal itself, thus reducing/removing the manifesting symptoms.
Other TCM modalities, such as cupping and tui na massage, may also be used in combination with acupuncture to enhance the therapeutic results. Cupping helps by loosening tight muscles and fascia aiding in regulating the free flow of qi and blood.
If needles aren’t for you, there are several things that you can do at home to help manage stress and avoid the symptoms described above:
Be mindful of your posture to decrease the stress on your ligaments and muscles.
Talk to a friend or family member or go out with them to help relieve stress.
Meditation is a way to release the stuck energy that has accumulated. Apps such as Mindfulness and Headspace can guide you through your daily meditation.
Exercise can improve qi and blood circulation. A walk/jog outside for about 30 minutes or developing a program with your physiotherapist/ athletic trainer would aid in recovery.
By visiting an acupuncturist or Traditional Chinese Medicine expert, they will address issues like this to help you return to the pain free active lifestyle that you deserve. Head to your local Lifemark clinic and book an appointment so you can get back to life.