Lilly is 8 months pregnant and her back is killing her! She makes an appointment with her neighborhood acupuncturist. Her expectation is that her acupuncturist will insert needles into her low back to help stop the pain. Instead, her acupuncturist has her walk up and down the hallway. They place magnets on her toes and a few needles in her head. They ask her to repeat those micromovements that have made pregnancy a bit unpleasant and the pain is gone! Not a single needle was inserted into her back. What?!?!
How can a point placed so far away from the place of pain be an effective method of treatment?
At this point in time, we still don’t know exactly how acupuncture works from a Western biomedical perspective. The research is favorable and acupuncture almost always beats out control groups. Some of the research has looked at the effects of acupuncture on the nervous system. Other research has looked at the impact of acupuncture on fascia. Fascia is the amazing connective tissue that runs throughout your muscles and all through your body. Massage therapists are obsessed with it!
The fascia theory happens to be my very favorite. When I was in school and taking my orthopedic coursework, we inserted a needle in a point located a few inches above the ankle on the outside of the leg. Then our teacher had us touch the top of the shoulder and observe what happened. As soon as we touched the top of the shoulder, the needle inserted in the leg would move up and down! This explains why I can place a needle in your hand and treat a headache!
A few other point selections/locations that might make you go hmmmmm:
-the middle of the chest for anxiety
-below the knee for digestion
-a few inches above the inner ankle for menstrual cramps
-the ear for shoulder, neck, or back pain
-right behind the knee for ovarian health
-the neck for insomnia
-the elbow for low back pain
-the back of the hand for whiplash or neck pain
-the inner elbow for asthma
If you are visiting your local acupuncturist and you are curious, ask them what a particular point is used to treat. We are all huge acunerds and will gladly explain!