Archive for tag: acupuncture

Countdown to Graduation - 3 Weeks

Patient care is winding down here at the NUHS Chicago Clinic for me. I am slowly turning over all my patients to ninth trimester interns as I finish with the last of my numbers for graduation. It is a bittersweet moment with a lot of the patients because we have been working together for the last six months. Although the patients are sad to see us moving on, they have been super supportive and excited for all us as we move on as doctors.

Over the past few months, my favorite pastime at clinic has been learning more and more about acupuncture. It has been such an effective treatment options for many of my patients. The results I have gotten when using acupuncture for treatment nine times out of ten have way exceeded my expectations. 

Photo of ear using auricular therapy
Auricular therapy with ear seed

The newest facet of acupuncture I have been using with some of my patients is auricular therapy. Auricular therapy consists of needling specific points on or around the ear that correspond to the rest of the body. Auricular therapy is a very effective treatment for depression, fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder, smoking cessation, facial rejuvenation, appetite suppression/weight loss, energy, and focus. For lasting results of an auricular therapy treatment, ear seeds can be placed in the patient's ear on specific pressure points. The ear seeds can be covered with a small bandage and left in the patient's ear for a few days after the treatment.

Photo of ear seed
Close up of ear seed

I have been treating a patient at the NUHS Chicago Whole Health Center for fatigue, focus, and increased energy using a lot of the acupuncture points in the ear. The patient is a student and also works two jobs. On average, the patient gets about four hours of sleep a night and her fatigue is mainly due to the stress of the her hectic schedule.

After the initial treatment, the patient has seen a significant increase in focus. Before starting treatment, she typically would doze off when attempting to study for long periods of time. Now, while studying, the patient stated she is able to maintain focus for a much longer period of time. With continued treatment, the patient has noticed increased energy levels throughout the day, decreased fatigue, and a more restful night's sleep.

The Calm After the Storm

The start of 2014 has been a very trying one. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, stress has been high due to my master bath remodel, car troubles, the worst winter I can ever remember, and finalizing everything for graduation. I can finally say that I think most of the stress is behind me! The weather has been slightly (ever so slightly) getting better. As of last Thursday, the finishing touches were put on our master bathroom. As of last Friday, I sold my car (huge relief). And as the weeks have been going by, more and more of my numbers and paperwork have been completed for graduation. I spent a large portion of the day on Monday cleaning, organizing, and knocking things off my to-do list. With so much stress taken off of me, I am feeling revitalized, ready for spring, and more importantly ready for graduation.

Now that school is coming to a close, I have been working on the paperwork for my license. There is lengthy application that needs to be filled out and sent into the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Along with the application, a fee, undergraduate transcripts, and graduate transcripts also need to be sent in as they approve the paperwork. It was a fairly confusing application and process to put all together, but it was a great feeling to put that envelope in the mail. Also, the sooner the state gets the application and all supplemental materials, the sooner it is processed, and the sooner I can start practicing after graduation. 


The acupuncture course I was enrolled in ended back in the beginning of February. I have been really enjoying practicing and experimenting with acupuncture on my current patients. From carpal tunnel syndrome, to headaches, to low back pain, to muscular strains, to facial rejuvenation (an all natural form of Botox), I have been getting really good results. Most patients love having it done and some even come in requesting it. One big reason I enjoy practicing acupuncture is the fact that if certain points are not working for a patient, there's a large variety of additional points and protocols to use with them. On top of that, if a patient doesn't want to be needled, there is acupressure, auricular therapy, and cupping that can all be used to achieve similar results. 

Facial Rejuvenation

Over the past few weeks, I have been learning about and using acupuncture for facial rejuvenation. Acupuncture for facial rejuvenation is an excellent option for patients who are looking for a natural approach and want to avoid costly surgery or harmful chemicals like Botox. The treatment involves a series of needles that are placed in the hands, wrists, feet, and ankles for detoxification. Another set of needles is used on specific acupuncture points on the neck and face. The final set of needles is contoured to the wrinkles on the patient's face. When the treatment is complete, there are about 40-50 needles that are used. It's a very complicated procedure, but the results patients have are great!


For patients who have never had an acupuncture treatment before, it is important to start with a tonifying or "four gates" treatment. This is a combination of points in both hands (LI4) and points in the feet (LV3). This is used to promote general qi circulation and relaxation. Some patients feel a sensation of tingling as they are undergoing the four gates therapy.

After the patient receives the four gates treatment or if the patient has had acupuncture before, the practitioner starts with the full facial rejuvenation protocol, which is described above. After the needles are removed, a facial massage is performed on the patient. This is an important step as it is not only relaxing for the patient but it also reduces the chance of bruising.

The first questions that most patients have are: Does it hurt? What results can I expect?

Some of the needles might be sensitive when inserted, but most of the patients do not even feel them going in. The two areas I have found that are most sensitive on patients are the upper lip and nasal area. As for results, the first thing people notice after treatment is the improvement in tone and texture of their skin. After a few more treatments, patients come back saying that their friends have noticed that, they are "looking well", but they can't put a finger on what has changed. And after more treatments, patients see a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, pores tighten, there's more color in their face, and a better facial skin tone.

I plan on making this a part of my practice, and I hope it is a big part. I have really enjoyed learning about it, practicing it, and hope to learn a lot more as I practice.  

When It Rains, It Pours

This week has been what seems like an ongoing nightmare. I have had a host of weather, car and house problems. The below zero temperatures and snowfall have continued here in Chicago during the worst winter I think I have ever experienced. During one of the large snowstorms, water got into the FRM module in my car (not entirely sure what that is, but apparently it controls the lights). So I had to take my car in for some pricey and lengthy repairs. On top of that, we have been re-doing our master bath at home, so our entire apartment is a mess. There are tools, tile and dust everywhere (or at least it seems like it to me). The good news is, by the end of the week, I should have the car repairs taken care of, the tiling should be finished in the bathroom, and we are supposed to have weather above 30º this weekend and into next week.

2014-02-19_bathroom _remodel

De-stressing with the Olympics

One of the joys and stress-free activities I have had this week is watching the Olympics any free chance that I get. I love everything about the Olympics from the pageantry at the opening ceremonies to the amazingly talented athletes, to the sense of national pride everyone gets as they play out. One of the winter Olympics events that blows my mind are the downhill skiing moguls. Skiers absorb the impact of a series of bumps, and then show off their ability to perform turns, flips, and other tricks on a series of jumps. It's one of those sports that as you watch you are not only amazed at what the athletes can do, but also that anyone can actually do it. With the combination of the fast speeds, series of obstacles, and massive flips, it really is one of the most intense and difficult sporting events.

Treating Headaches

In clinic this week, I had a patient present with headaches and sinus congestion. I particularly enjoy treating headache patients, and I feel like it is one of the areas I excel in treating. After going through a physical exam with the patient, I diagnosed the problem as headaches due to cervicogenic tension and sinus congestion. Most of the patient's pain was centrally located over the area of the frontal sinuses. The pain was described as a throbbing sensation, which changes with the weather, and is worse when bending forward. The patient also has neck pain and cervical muscle tenderness associated with myofascial trigger points, which is characteristic of cervicogenic headache patients. 

For treatment, I have been using a combination of soft tissue work including: soft tissue massage, instrument assisted soft tissue massage, pin and stretch, and post isometric relaxation to the tight cervical muscles. I also have been using chiropractic manipulative therapy to the patient's cervical spine, thoracic spine, and cranium. The final therapy I have been using is acupuncture. Acupuncture is particularly good for sinus congestion and helping to drain those structures. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Over the past two weeks, I have been treating a patient with carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a median nerve entrapment neuropathy, which causes paresthesia, pain, numbness, swelling, and other symptoms in the wrist and hand. The symptoms mainly occur around the thumb, index and ring fingers. These symptoms are due to compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel of the wrist.

The wrist carpal bones and a connective tissue covering called the flexor retinaculum make the carpal tunnel. Several structures pass through the tunnel including: flexor digitorum profundus tendons, flexor digitorum superficialis tendons, and flexor pollicis longus tendon, and the median nerve. Some of the main causes are diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, and heavy manual work especially with vibrating tools.  


The treatment I have been using is a combination of chiropractic manipulative therapy, instrument-assisted soft tissue manipulation, acupuncture, therapeutic exercises, and supplementation. With this combination, I have been able to take the patient from an 8/10 to 1/10 on the visual pain scale with almost no remaining symptoms.

The main chiropractic manipulation I use for carpal tunnel syndrome is called the opponens roll. The doctor takes a contact over the palmer side of the wrist and spreads the flexor retinaculum with a force applied. Patients get a lot of relief with this adjustment due to stretching of the flexor retinaculum and increased cross-sectional area of the carpal tunnel.

Acupuncture has also been a very effective tool in the management of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially with the pain and swelling. Some of the main points I have been using include: Liver 4, Lung (LU) 7, LU8, LU9, LU10, Pericardium (PC) 5, PC6, PC7, PC8, and Heart 7. 

Finally, I recommended that the patient supplement with pyridoxine or vitamin B-6. This has been shown to help with carpal tunnel syndrome by facilitating biosynthesis of pain-relieving serotonin, reducing excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, and a diuretic effect through inhibition of anti-diuretic hormone.