What to do when someone has multiple areas of pain? Fibromyalgia is a good example of pain, aches and muscle soreness all over the body and/or at multiple joints. I recently had a patient come in with back pain, sciatica pain, knee pain, hip pain and neck and shoulder pain. The frequent question being is can more than one area of pain be treated at one time?

Another patient recently reported “I tried acupuncture many, many years ago. It’s probably about 15 years ago. It didn’t seem to do much for me at that time. Since then I’ve tried chiropractic, physical therapy, including epidurals. Epidurals helped me for about a year, but when I took it the second time around it wasn’t much help. So I was wondering if there had been any change in the treatments which could help the pain.”

I told this man that there are variables that can affect outcome. The main variable is how long a patient has had a certain condition. The longer it’s been around, the longer it usually takes to resolve, especially if one wants to do it gently and naturally without the use of drugs or shots. Patients typically come to my office when Western medicine can no longer help beyond giving drugs to alleviate the pain. Many patients do not like the efffects that pain medication or steroids have on their bodies.

Also, with regard to prior experiences with acupuncture, outcomes can be influenced by frequency, proximity of repeat treatments and duration of treatments. For long standing problems, it may not be unusual to need 20 or more treatments. One of my teachers, Dr. Tan, explains acupuncture treatments this way. “Acupuncture is like a therapy. The treatments build on each other over time.” When my patients tell me they feel better after the first treament, I am honest with them and tell them it’s a very good sign they responded so quickly, but “what I can’t promise is how long this treatment is going to hold.” Like chemotherapy or psychotherapy, the treatments build on each other for maximum effectiveness.

Also, one much take into account their age, lifestyle, daily actitivies, exercise, diet and stress. These all affect how the body heals.

So, back to the issue of multiple areas of pain. When there are so many areas that have pain I can either chase the pain and put needles all over the areas of pain or try to come up with a strategy that can efficiently move energy all over while still targeting some areas of pain. So many areas of pain makes me think of Times Square in NYC at rush hour. All lanes in all directions are backed up, everyone’s honking and nothing is moving. My typical approach to this is to create energy flow all over the body and then see what pain is left over. It’s called a global treatment and moves energy at the various levels that it flows in the body.

Because the channel system is a closed circuit system, it’s easy to move all twelve channels with just a few needles. Once energy is moving smoothly, there is less pain and then I will be more inclined to do a targeted treatment of the pain that is left over.

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