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Acupuncture seeks to rebalance the energy pathways of the body – and it is a very logical system – but it works in seemingly mysterious ways!
People often wonder why acupuncture treatment is not solely focused on the area of pain or dysfunction: Why are you needling my foot when I have a sore shoulder?
The reason is that what resolves a sore shoulder in one person may not have any effect in the next person.
Why? Because our acupuncture treatments work on the CAUSE of the problem, and what causes shoulder pain in one person is not always the same as another. This is why acupuncture can be such a powerful tool for healing, especially with complex or difficult to treat conditions. We don’t just look at symptoms; we look at why they are happening in the first place.
How We Treat
Any kind of effective and lasting treatment depends upon an accurate assessment of the underlying cause of the condition, called the “Root Treatment”. A strong focus needs to be put on this and it is the most important part of the acupuncture treatment.
Treating the symptoms or presenting complaint is called the “Branch Treatment” and is only performed after the Root Treatment has been completed.
So what are some of the underlying factors from an acupuncture point of view that could drive shoulder pain?
- Trauma – physical or emotional
- Blood stagnation – an acupuncture term for impaired circulation in the body
- Structural imbalance – local, or distal, to the shoulder joint
- Lack of qi (energy) generally
By assessing your structure, your pulse, your abdomen and the effects of putting pressure on various acupuncture points, your practitioner will be able to work out what is holding your body up and keeping you in pain. Treatment then focuses primarily on removing the road-block (the Root Treatment) and secondarily on the symptoms (the Branch Treatment).
You will be able to experience this for yourself within the treatment. Your practitioner will be able to explain the road block to you and you will be able to feel the immediate effect of treatment.
I hope that this article goes some way to explaining why we do the things we do!
by Rachel Steward, Acupuncturist.