The Traditional Chinese Medicine’s View
Orthopedics and Acupuncture Potential Relationship:
1) After surgery, why pain and/or discomfort continue?
As acupuncture is not a biochemical, mechanical or structural medicine, it addresses the body’s energetic presentation. Acupuncture, a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), contends all pain is the result of an energetic blockage, like debris collecting in a stream’s eddy, or similar to a kinked garden hose that prevents normal water flow, acupuncture treatment, using specific selected points, will increase energy flow which aids in patient recovery.
2) Phantom Pain:
Energy blockages according to TCM theory, can explain phantom pain. For example: Even though a limb is no longer present, from an energetic perspective, it’s energy flow essentially remains. Western medicine now believes the body communicates internally with light or possibly a form of micro-electrical current.
So acupuncture seeks to restore balance and harmony to the body’s system
energetically and by rebalancing the body’s energetic function, the patient’s body ability to communicate, it can heal itself. By selecting specific acupuncture points, balance is improved and corrected.
3) Why does an older patient’s post-surgical outcome lag behind a younger
From a TCM perspective, as one ages, the body’s energy flow called qi (“chee”)
declines. Good qi flow is the result of genetic potential and lifestyle choices like
good, exercise and levels of stress, all known to affect the body’s energetic potential. Acupuncture can work directly on a patient’s so called underlying energetic (constitutional) imbalance to improve the patient’s qi (their energetic
function) either pre-op to improve their response to surgery (recommended) or post-op when recovery is slow, incomplete and/or continues to be painful.
Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) Diagnosis of Pain:
Acupuncture is part of the vast and ancient science of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which also includes herbs, feng shui, moxabustion (heated herb), tui na (a form of massage and adjustment), cupping and dietary recommendations.
Pain that is the result of trauma, according to TCM, causes strain to the body’s qi (its vital force) where is first shocked energetically and is no longer “moving,” which leads to a congestion and stagnation of the body’s energy (i.e. a diagnosis of “qi stagnation”). As a result of the body’s qi stagnation, the blood circulation then becomes “blocked” causing the blood to stagnate in place causing a more severe condition that is at a “deeper” level diagnosed as “blood stasis.”
When qi and blood have both become blocked and left untreated (in TCM terms), the body’s fluid can then become involved, causing it to become “disordered” energetically. This disorganization can then lead to a further chronic condition where the body produces “turbid phlegm” which then blocks the overall meridian channel energy flow causing the patient to complain of pain and numbness in the neck, back and extremities.
In TCM, the first stage of pain diagnosis is termed “Stagnant Qi and Blood” (which is considered more superficial and exterior) to the second stage of trauma is termed “Blood Stagnation combined with Congestion of Qi and Fluids” in the local area(s) which causes stiffness and pain.
However, if the second stage of pain is not resolved, then the patient enters the third stage, which is marked by the need to rebuild tissue and dispel exogenous (outside) elements. In TCM terms, those exogenous elements would be wind, cold and damp. Those elements are known to transform pain, especially in a traumatic injury into a more chronic “bi” syndrome presentation (“bi” is TCM term/diagnosis for various forms of arthritis).
At the third stage, there often some residual blood stasis that is contributes to lingering pain. Impaired qi and blood are both conditions that are often the result of an underlying imbalance of liver and kidney function from a TCM perspective. Such an imbalance can give rise to symptoms of fatigue, tiredness and lingering pain and soreness. In older patients, such pain conditions are further compounded by an underlying constitutional kidney yang (yang cause the body to be warm inside), and spleen and liver qi deficiencies. All conditions that can cause the body to be colder internally which contributes to the body’s inability to derive full benefit from surgery and/or cause slower recovery time, especially in older people
In TCM terms, one of the liver’s functions is to insure the “smoothness of flow.” As joints and tendons are governed by the Liver, a deficiency in liver function can prevent the organ’s ability to insure the smooth of flow of energy, which leads to various kinds of Liver patterns that can result in pain in the joints and tendons.
In TCM terms, the bones and the spine are associated with kidney function. When kidney function is strengthened (as well as warmed), it will improve both the condition of the bones, joints and the disc structures, which then stops pain and expedites healing.