Did you know?? Acupuncture can treat poison ivy

f you've never had the luxury of experiencing poison ivy or another similar contact dermatitis, consider yourself lucky! Rashes from poison ivy can range from a simple small rash that responds well to topical steroids or itch medicines to something as extensive as smoke inhalation from a burning plant that causes a severe systemic reaction. 

5 Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them

With the rise in popularity of half marathons, running has seen a boom in the past decade or so. With that increase in those of us regular folk who regularly train to compete in long distance races like the half marathon, marathon and ultra distances, running injuries are bound to happen. It is inevitable that every runner or athlete will develop an injury at some point and the majority are overuse injuries. 

Why is acupuncture so relaxing?

It sounds counter intuitive, but acupuncture is a pretty relaxing experience. It isn't unusual for me to wake patients up when I come back in the room to remove their needles. People are usually pretty surprised they were able to relax that much, because they assume they will be tense and aware during their treatment. Those 20 minute acu-naps can feel pretty darn good.

Dry Needling vs Acupuncture

I get asked quite often if I also do dry needling. The answer is a resounding YES, I just don't call it that. When an acupuncturist performs dry needling on a patient, we call it acupuncture or if being more specific, trigger point release.

Dry needling typically refers to non-acupuncturists (typically physical therapists, chiropractors, or MDs) that have done some extra educational certificate to do trigger point release of muscles using acupuncture needles. This is often a weekend or week long course format and the rules on who can perform dry needling vary by state. 

When a patient sees me with a pain problem and there is any component of muscle tightness, we will probably be doing some trigger point release during the course of their treatments. To avoid using a lot of needles, I also use cupping and gua sha scraping to complement this. 

Here is my quick and dirty summary on dry needling:

1. Why?- to release tight muscles or to activate inactive muscles that aren't firing properly. It can be used in any pain issue that has a tight muscle involved. Examples include neck, shoulder, back pain, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis. 

2. How is it different from acupuncture?- Not by much. The same needles are used, but because we are inserting into a muscle belly, they will be inserted farther into the patient. Typical acupuncture points are needled very shallow. 

3. Is it painful?- You will feel a dull pressure from the needle. The resulting spasm and release of the muscle can be surprising the first time around, but easy to get used to. Afterward the muscle may feel sore for the rest of the day. 

4. Any other words of caution?- Yes. Make sure the practitioner performing dry needling knows what they are doing. The needle is going in pretty deep so you want someone who knows their anatomy and is experienced in sterile needle use. 

I've attached a Facebook Live from one of my recent Wellness Wednesday talks. In it, I dry needle my own calf, but unfortunately I didn't get a super impressive spasm release because they just weren't super tight anymore. You still get an idea of what is involved. :)