Be patient: The road to your health may be a winding one
Free Press Health Columnist
It seems to be human nature. We want what we want, when we want it. While steps may be being taken to get what we want, if we haven’t achieved the ultimate goal, we tend to think we haven’t gotten anywhere.
As a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, I see this analogy play out often clinically. We want to feel fabulous, and we want to feel fabulous NOW! However, reaching and achieving our health goals, no matter how small or how big, is an involved process that takes time and has its ups and downs.
I like to explain to my patients that the common path on the way back to health, especially for a chronic condition, tends to be three steps forward and one to two steps back. Consider one of any doctor’s most common chief complaints, chronic back pain. As an acupuncturist, I often see a patient with chronic back pain after the patient has tried many other therapies such as medications, physical therapy and surgery. By this time in the patient’s journey of back pain, the pain has insidiously interrupted the patient’s quality of life for months and sometimes years.
Upon taking a complete health history, I often learn of coinciding complaints like chronic fatigue and feeling cold. Unbeknownst to the patient, those other complaints are quite often associated with lower back pain and are a reflection of a deeper, underlying health condition. These factors are also the reason for the one to two steps back. What separates Chinese medicine from more current traditional therapies is we understand that in order for the chronic back pain to heal completely, we must address the underlying deficiencies.
After just one acupuncture treatment, the patient is likely to experience much less back pain, which leaves the patient feeling very hopeful that the intense and grueling pain will not last forever. The positive results of the treatment may last hours or days, but quite often it returns if the person does not receive acupuncture again. This is because acupuncture has the ability to disrupt the current pattern of pain, but until the pain pattern is interrupted enough so that the body can achieve a new normal of no pain, the pain will not completely resolve. The more chronic the condition, the longer it takes to achieve a new and healthier pattern.
Over a few treatments, the patient will notice that overall the pain is better but not completely resolved. It is at this time the patient may become a bit discouraged. It is then helpful to remind the patient of how he or she was feeling before beginning acupuncture treatment. A testament to the human will and fortitude, the patient usually forges forward to a complete recovery. And not only will the back pain be all the way better, but the patient’s energy and subjective body temperature will be normalized as well.
This pattern is common in treating multiple chronic conditions, including hormone-balancing, depression, anxiety, pain, digestive diseases like ulcerative colitis and acid reflux, and allergies. Once you have chosen to achieve your fullest health potential, hang on and enjoy the ride!
April L. Schulte-Barclay is a doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine and is a licensed acupuncturist. She is licensed by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners and is certified by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is founder and clinic director of Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions, located at 2139 N. 12th St. #7. For more information, call 970-256-8449.
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