There is no separation between what is felt physically or emotionally in the body. Keeping that in mind, extreme emotional trauma can cause physical symptoms. What it doesn’t mean is that it is all "in your head", it is real! Strong emotions cause physiological changes in our bodies, especially when we are under stress. The need to fight or the need to run away causes chemical changes in our bodies to prepare us to do either. If the body is constantly under stress, our bodies can get stuck in the fight or flight mode. Acupuncture releases emotions stuck in the body - this frequently happens during the treatment itself but may occur in the 24 hours following treatment.
Here are some clues that there might be something emotional going on:
Pain that moves around or symptoms that do not have a medical explanation. Did your symptoms that start around the time of a traumatic event? Or are you experiencing common symptoms such as chest tightness, stomach aches, nausea, headaches, tight muscles or trouble sleeping? Frequently when these types of symptoms show up with no other explanation it can be a clue that they are stemming from emotional causes. The good news is acupuncture can help! We very often see patients who have had every medical test available with no answer to why they are feeling so poorly and we can help these folks.
Most people walk around with their head disconnected from their body; not aware of what’s going on until their symptoms are so prominent that they can no longer be ignored. The trick is to pay attention to what your body is saying and take action before symptoms are out of control. Building awareness takes practice! Sometimes we train ourselves to not pay attention to pain occurring in the body. This includes those who are athletic, or those who are recovering from any type of trauma. It is common for athletes and others to “push through the pain” until all current and future symptoms are ignored. Chronic symptoms can actually teach us a lot about our bodies and that we need to change our behaviors.
Most behavior changes are simple! Such as going to bed earlier or saying no to a request that has a potential to drain your energy. It can also take the form of monitoring your diet for food sensitivities. Chronic problems may never disappear completely, so acceptance is the key to changing your perspective on how you approach the relationship with your body.
Noticing how our bodies respond to different situations can be useful to determine if that is a healthy situation or behavior. For instance, if you notice stomach upset or constipation after eating dairy products, that is a clue that dairy products are not compatible with your body! Or, if you notice your anxiety spiking after staying up late the evening before it is definitely your body’s way of telling you to go to bed earlier. Paying attention to clues such as these can help you avoid major health problems down the road.
Sometimes getting to the root of the symptom is difficult. There may not be a noticeable link between an emotional origin and a physical symptom, but that may be why you are experiencing one. It is worth talking to someone and getting outside perspective to see if a physical symptom has an emotional origin. For example, if several symptoms started suddenly three months ago, think about what was going on in your life at the time for clues. The clues may be obvious to someone else, but it can be difficult to figure out on your own.
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Losing weight is a personal health goal. You can be healthy at any size. While a healthy body weight is important it is not the whole story. Research shows a person's level of activity is more important than their body weight. A skinny person who is sedentary may be less healthy than someone who exercises regularly but has a few extra pounds. Shaming and talking down to yourself that you need to lose weight or else does not help- it can in fact make things worse. And certainly blaming every health problem or ache or pain you have on your body weight doesn't help either- even skinny people and athletic people can suffer from chronic health problems!
A lot of people need to feel better before they can tackle the lifestyle change and dedication necessary to achieve lasting weight loss. And that's ok. Acupuncture can help you get there if weight loss is your goal, and if its not- that's ok too. How does acupuncture help with weight loss? Acupuncture helps to balance hormones, improve digestion, increase motivation, reduce sugar cravings, improve sleep and relieve the stress that results in emotional eating. Every patient is different but what we find is that for most patients we are working on a several different areas to help them achieve their goals.
First, what is an acute injury?
It is a fall or bump, like a sprained ankle, that causes swelling or bruising at the site of the injury. Make sure the injury is a strain or sprain, not a break. If you choose to ice the injured area, keep it to the first 24 hours after the injury then switch to heat. There is no evidence ice helps the injury heal faster, at all. Swelling is your body’s way of healing and letting you know that something is wrong. It is normal to have swelling after an injury . Use heat to keep the blood and circulation moving at the site of injury. Ice tightens everything up and prevents blood circulation. If you can bear it, then light stretching can help the injury to heal. Too much rest or total rest will cause muscle atrophy. This causes the injured muscle to become weak. Also, this depends on how severe the injury is! There is a difference between a rolled ankle or a torn tendon.
Techniques to try:
Epsom salt soak
Light stretching - use pain as your guide! Over extending will hurt rather than help.
Wrapping the injury with an ace bandage if you need one
Natural anti-inflammatories like ginger or turmeric
Arnica gel and pills
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1) Use logic to slow the anxiety spiral and then find a helper.
Many times putting your irrational fears into words and having a friend talk you through them can help reduce their power. Shedding light on darkness can make a huge difference.
2) Don’t forget your physical body
Sometimes anxiety can show up as physical symptoms. Think headaches, stomach aches, or chest tightness. Take care of your mind and your body by getting regular exercise and practicing mindfulness or breathing techniques and acupuncture. Even when you aren’t experiencing anxiety symptoms practicing these techniques on a regular basis can make managing the symptoms easier when they do show up.
3) Check your sleep
Not enough sleep or poor quality sleep can be an anxiety trigger for a lot of people. Use an evening routine to calm your body down in the evenings to prepare for sleep. Avoid screens or social media surfing 2 hours before bedtime. Try to go to sleep at the same time every night. Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet.
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TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is the joint at the right and left of your jaw, just under your ears. When people say they have “TMJ,” they mean pain and stiffness in the jaw joints and in the jaw itself. What causes this pain? Commonly, when people are very stressed, their muscles tend to become tense and tight. In addition to jaw pain, this muscle tension can cause chronic muscle tightness in the neck and shoulders and lead to headaches. Usually, a tense neck and shoulders accompanies jaw pain. It is common to tense up the neck and shoulder muscles without realizing it! Teeth grinding and clenching is another unconscious stress reaction. Is this you? Being intentional helps to recognize stress and let it go.
You can manage TMJ and jaw pain at home with the use of heating pads, warm compresses, deep breathing, acupuncture, meditation, stretches and self-massage.
Here are 3 stretches you can do for relief.
What difference does this make for you? Please comment below because I would love to know.
What is neuropathy? Neuropathy is a stabbing, burning or tingling sensation. It can be caused by diabetes, spinal stenosis, chemotherapy, shingles or nerve damage.
Western treatments may include surgery, but generally neuropathy is treated with drugs. Some patients cannot tolerate the side effects of drug treatment or it may be ineffective and they seek out alternative treatments like acupuncture to help the neuropathy and manage the side effects of the drugs. In many cases patients are able to reduce the amount of drugs they are taking and sometimes even stop taking them, completely managing their condition with acupuncture.
Treatment outcomes with acupuncture
In general, the more severe the case the more acupuncture treatment a patient is going to need. Your acupuncturist will discuss your general health, how severe the pain is, how large the affected area is and how long you’ve had the condition. From the acupuncturist’s assessment you will be given a custom treatment plan. Patients who follow the treatment plan exactly get the best results.
Supportive treatment at home includes quitting smoking, getting regular exercise and good sleep habits. Acupuncture can help support you in lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, getting better sleep and starting an exercise routine. Sleep is critical with any chronic condition because when we are sleeping is when the body is healing. Walking, yoga, chair yoga and stretching are great exercises to begin with at home.
Make sure you get yourself some good shoes and treat your body well. Compression socks might be helpful too.
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Think about the people you spend the most time with. Are they adding to or subtracting from your life? Is there anyone who, after you interact with them, you feel consistently drained or negative? Everyone has bad days, but do you have someone in your life who is always complaining?If you have energy vampires around you, maybe consider addition by subtraction. Sometimes boundaries have to be set for people you interact with to keep them from sucking your emotional energy.
Most of us do not have unlimited energy and we need to be careful how we give our energy away and who we give it to. Be selective with who gets your time. We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. We don’t have control over who we must interact with like family or co-workers or a boss.
The people we spend our time with are important. Its helpful to surround yourself with positive, supportive people especially when you are trying to make a life changes. Having an accountability buddy, someone with similar goals that you can check in with can help you reach your goals. Having a buddy with similar goals can also help protect you when you fall down. When you are also in charge of keeping someone else accountable it helps you stick to your goals, too.
Its also good to take some time to reflect on what kind of friend you are. Are you supportive of your friends? Are you there for them when they need you? Do you emotionally dump on them without giving in return? As women sometimes we have difficulty being direct or asking for what we want. Are you being passive aggressive or are you not feeling heard? There is always room for self-reflection and improvement for all of us.
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I get it. Water tastes bad and it is boring. But before you pour some sugary flavor into your water or drink another diet soda, let me share some awesome things about water. First of all water is plentiful and it is free. It is readily available and it has zero calories. 60% of your body is water and 90% of our blood is water- that is alot of water! The benefits of drinking water, besides keeping you alive, is it helps your skin look fantastic, flushes out toxins, maintains our body temperature and helps digestion. Water also helps maintain blood pressure, helps with asthma and allergies and prevents muscle cramps and soreness.
Are you drinking enough water? Signs of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, headaches, irritability, trouble concentrating and muscle cramps. Aim to drink ½ your body weight in ounces, more if its hot outside.
To adjust your taste buds, get used to drinking water by diluting other drinks until you get used to it. Once you adjust your taste it is actually delicious. If you are trying to get off of soda try seltzer, a squeeze of lemon or lime or some fresh mint leaves. Comment below with your favorite way to drink water!
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Meaghan Massella, M.Ac, L.Ac, Dipl. Ac (NCCAOM) is an acupuncturist, business owner and mother of 2.