A client I will call “Jane” came in for an acupuncture treatment to help with pain and swelling following an ankle sprain. As I was inserting an acupuncture needle into her abdomen, she asked the very common question, “What’s that needle for?” Clients are often puzzled when needles are inserted in parts of their bodies that seem to be entirely unrelated to the health issue at hand.
Chinese Medicine in general, and acupuncture in particular, recognizes that everything in our bodies is connected. In addition, our bodies are connected to our minds, our emotions, and our Spirits. And our minds, emotions, and Spirits are inextricably connected to one another. This acknowledgement is one of the reasons why acupuncture has remained such a powerful and effective healing modality for the past 3,000 years.
Returning to the above example, Jane’s ankle sprain was on the outside of her left ankle and occurred when she was rushing to an appointment for which she was late and tripped on a stair. During our pre-treatment interview, she revealed that she had suffered several other sprains and a bone fracture in childhood. All of these occurred on the left side of her body. She also revealed that she tended to be accident prone, usually when she was rushing from one place to another. During these times she tended to trip or drop things she was carrying, which would make her feel very angry. So while I used acupuncture points close to the sprain to ease Jane’s discomfort, I also accessed points to help her slow down a bit and to ease the rush of anger and frustration that she commonly feels.
On the other hand, let’s say that “Fred” comes in with an ankle sprain on the inside of his left ankle. This is the first injury of this type he has suffered, and occurred when he was crossing a busy street and tripped on the curb. Fred has noticed a little bit of trouble with his digestion lately, and also notes that people around him say that he has been acting “spacey,” with his head in clouds. Treatment strategy, while addressing the ankle, would also focus on Fred’s mental and physical digestion, bringing him a sense of being grounded and steady on his feet.
Acupuncture points, then, are chosen not only to relieve a symptom that is currently causing discomfort. An acupuncturist might choose to also treat a point which addresses the underlying cause behind the presenting symptom, or treat a point proactively in order to prevent future related problems. While these acupuncture points may not be located adjacent to the presenting issue, they will still be quite effective in addressing the problem due to the web of acupuncture pathways that exist throughout the body and the relationship between the body, mind, and Spirit.
As a practitioner, the art of creating an effective treatment as unique as the person on my treatment table keeps my work fresh and engaging. Through acupuncture, there are an infinite number of ways to address any issue that you feel is preventing you from enjoying the best health possible, whether physical, mental, emotional, or Spiritual.