An article written by Dr. Sandra Skates, explaining how acupuncture can be a tool to ease your aging!
Many of us have a genetic predisposition to age-related diseases. Or, we have old injuries that set us up to have problems later in life. Aging brings hormonal, neurotransmitter and other changes that affect our ability to sleep, build muscle, tolerate food and use nutrients adequately, no matter how well we eat.
One treatment that can assist in many of these areas is medical acupuncture.
This is a modern approach to a concept practiced in China for more than 2,000 years. Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. Similar to traditional acupuncture, medical acupuncture involves the strategic placement of sterile needles into various locations in the body.
It often uses heat or a low frequency electrical stimulation on the needles.
Medical acupuncture is performed by a doctor, dentist or nurse practitioner trained and licensed in Western medicine who has also had thorough training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. Used alone, or combined with other procedures, it can promote a sense of health and well-being, help control chronic pain and aid in the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions.
Acupuncture is not a cure-all or a magic wand, but it is a powerful tool in a treatment regimen, especially if nutrition and exercise are included.
I’m often asked if acupuncture is painful. People experience acupuncture needling differently. Sometimes patients feel a minor pain as the needles are inserted; but most feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain.
Here are some examples of conditions that can be helped by acupuncture:
Arthritis: This is an inevitable consequence of being older than 50, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Acupuncture may be helpful in managing the pain of a single joint or multiple areas of the body. The resulting decreased pain, increased range of motion and tolerance of daily activities is much appreciated by arthritis sufferers.
Mood, sleep, motivation, chronic pain: Most people don’t group these together. However, they have a lot in common. Medical acupuncture is part of a complete regimen of normalizing hormones, neurotransmitters in the brain and metabolic processes. Acupuncture also involves a balancing of the organs and the “qi,” which can have a profound effect on mood, sleep and chronic pain. The relaxation felt after a medical acupuncture treatment may last for several days. Multiple treatments tend to have a cumulative effect.
Menopause: Medical acupuncture is often included to help relieve symptoms during and after menopause. It does not replace herbal or hormone supplementation as a general rule. However, decreasing discomfort during menses, calming systemic symptoms and normalizing other body functions can ease the transition into full menopause.
Other systemic conditions: As humans age, there tends to be more difficulty with respiratory, stomach, intestinal and urinary tract function. Medical acupuncture is one method to support good function and may help to avoid or decrease medication needed to manage a problem.
Physical performance: I have many patients in their late 70s and 80s who are finding that acupuncture is helpful in keeping them active. They find that with regular treatment they can continue to walk, go up and down stairs, swim, do yoga, golf and ride bicycles. Some of my favorite patients are my 85-plus-year-olds who are still driving, living on their own, traveling, involved in community and family life.
When I see them I think, “That’s how I want to be when I grow up.”
Sandra Skates, D.O, is an osteopathic physician who practices osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), at the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Vacaville.