Acupuncture’s Applications in Surgery

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical tradition that goes back as far back as the ice age, when sharp shards of bone were utilized with charcoal to “needle” and create tattoos at various areas on the back along the vertebrae, with the probable aim of relieving pain. From these humble beginnings, it has turned into a quite sophisticated modality that is usually combined with other types of Chinese medicine.

A practitioner of Chinese medicine believes that the body has an elaborate meridian system in the body. Interestingly, the Chinese did not highly regard acupuncture in the same way they did herbal medicine, until recently. Before, acupuncture was a treatment of the lower class; now it is availed of by all strata of Chinese society.

In the United States, acupuncture was initially used to help relieve pain. Now, various studies done through the years have shown that this modality can be used to treat scars caused by surgery.

Acupuncture has the capacity to treat scars

Scars can adversely impact the meridian system of the body. Lipomas and various lesions can be resolved with acupuncture. Because of their cosmetic nature, scars can be an issue to a person. They can disrupt the flow of chi (chi literally means energy) in an energy channel or meridian. When an obstruction develops in a meridian, it results in an imbalance in chi flow. The body possesses a dozen primary meridians and a greater number of secondary meridians. These primary meridians are related to various internal organ systems including the Heart, Liver, Kidneys, etc. and when one or more of these systems is imbalanced, it can potentially damage the affected organ.

Scars can vary in size. Some can be as small as a penny, while some scars, such as burn scars can envelop the whole body. If a scar has developed over an acupuncture point, then even if it’s small in size, it can impair chi flow.

You can determine if a scar does negatively affect your health in many ways. One approach one can use to determine if a scar impacts a person’s health is through Applied kinesiology.

The first step in applied kinesiology is to locate a strong indicator muscle. Next the patient needs to touch the scar and while he does this, the muscle is retested again to determine if it has weakened. This procedure can be utilized to ascertain if touching the scar will strengthen a muscle that was originally weak. There are scars that can only impact specific muscles. Once a scar is seen to directly impact a person’s health, then treatment can be performed.

Besides causing scars, surgery can also be used to remove them. Scars associated with surgery usually are the result of improper suturing. There are less invasive modalities you can use to treat scars. They can include the tiger warmer tool, acupuncture, and rubbing the site everyday with wheat germ oil.

One issue with acupuncture and other forms of natural medicine is the lack of research done regarding these modalities. However, for a lot of people, acupuncture and other natural forms of medicine have been the answers to their health problems and some have even reported being wholly cured by these other alternative forms of treatment. In fact, there are individuals who claim that natural medicine has “cured” their cancer although most of us have this belief that cancer can only be “cured” by surgery.

There are other testimonials in the internet similar to this type of claim. One patient has stated that his leg lipoma vanished after undergoing acupuncture treatments. The problem with his story was that the person did not mention what else he was doing so it was difficult to determine if acupuncture alone was responsible for his cancer cure. More real research needs to be done about acupuncture in order to reveal the secrets of its health benefits to humankind.

Patients who are about to undergo surgery are naturally filled with anxiety prior to the procedure. Acupuncture, especially ear acupuncture (auriculotherapy or auricular acupuncture), can help quell anxiety as proven in various clinical studies. One such study involved 55 hospital workers who are assigned in operating rooms. The levels of anxiety was substantially decreased among workers who were treated with ear acupuncture at their shen men acupuncture point located on the upper part of the external ear as compared to the a group treated with sham acupuncture at the middle ear.

Anxiety relief prior to surgery is important when it comes to the caring of the patient. Ear acupuncture is an extremely delicate procedure and needs to be performed only by highly trained acupuncturists. Ear beads that are taped on the ear lobes can also be used as an alternative to acupuncture and are less delicate to perform.

The permanent or temporary anesthesia of a part of the body is one of the most discussed topics of acupuncture use. Permanent anesthesia is considered a side effect that may result when one is putting a needle in a nerve. It is believed that acupuncture helps stimulate the production and release of endorphin, body chemicals that are responsible for blocking pain sensations.

To boost the effects of anesthesia, electro-stimulation can be added to the acupuncture procedure. A particular case of acupuncture needles enhanced with electrical stimulation inserted at the PC 6 and LI 4 acupoints during an orthopedic operation of the patellar ligament for half an hour helped to reduce the anxiety level of the patient. Other points were also needled to relieve pain in different parts of the body.

More and more people each day are becoming aware that acupuncture is not merely a substitute for anesthetic drugs during surgery. As research goes on, we will see more and more of its use in modern surgery.

Zuobiao (Roy) Yuan is a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of chinese medicine in Edina, MN.

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