I do some of my best thinking while cleaning house – I’m not sure why vacuuming and sweeping, specifically, trigger my blog writing juices, but they do. My most recent cleaning brainstorm was the idea to write about something that I have come to know from years of treating patients, but realized might not be that obvious to others – that healing takes time, it is a process, and successful healing often includes specific actions by the patient and the practitioner.
First the idea that healing is a process. This makes logical sense to me, as typically health problems occur over time – with the exception of an acute injury – most issues don’t appear overnight (although you may live with them for a long time before they become troublesome enough for you to seek help). A dramatic example is a cancerous tumor. A person may not know they have cancer until the tumor is a specific size that causes pain or discomfort, or other symptoms, but most likely the tumor grew over days, weeks or months (maybe years) to the problematic size. Because the cancer took a while to grow, it also will take a while to treat, and the process usually includes chemotherapy, radiation and maybe surgery. Treatment length and success is based on a many factors which may include the type of cancer, location, stage and the general health of the patient, to name a few. So your tendinitis will get better with treatment, but you must come frequently enough to see the results you desire.
Sometime patients come to acupuncture and Chinese medicine as a last resort – we’re one of the last houses on the block, after someone has seen multiple doctors, or tried many other types of therapy, without the results they hoped for. I have seen acupuncture treatments work amazingly well – with reports of patients being completely pain free for 6 months to complete removal of menstrual issues
– after one
treatment. I’m always happy to hear of these results and encourage patients to share their success stories with me. However, this is the exception, not the rule. Again, for the best results, it is important to get treated often enough for a long enough time. This does not mean that improvement may not start immediately – often it does – but healing and change takes time.
Acupuncture treatments build upon one another. I treat patients with complicated health issues – they may have chronic pain, headaches, infections, allergies, digestive issues and emotional concerns. When they show up at the office, the chief complaint may be fatigue, or frustration with getting sick so frequently, or pain that has flared up again. My job is to un-layer the issues and help their body onto the path of healing. Many times patients notice multiple issues improving with continued care – this is because acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat the whole body – and treatment directed at reducing inflammation and improving immune function can have the bi-product of reducing pain, improving digestion, and reducing stress as well as improving immunity.
To maximize results, I recommend patients receive acupuncture treatment weekly for the first four to six weeks of care. For some complicated health issues continued weekly treatment is ideal. Patients see the most dramatic and long term results from coming regularly for treatment – because getting better takes time. In between treatments it is important to participate in your healing by following any treatment recommendations – from taking epsom salt baths,
to removing/reducing inflammatory foods from your diet, getting more sleep or attempting a mediation practice
. Perfection with these tasks is not required but participating in your own healing is powerful – and can make the results of the treatment much greater.