There is a saying in Traditional Chinese medicine that has been drilled into our heads during our schooling, “where there is stagnation, there is pain.” What this means in Chinese medicine is when Qi cannot flow freely through the body because of a physical blockage or a deficiency there will be pain. Pain can be an excess or deficient condition in TCM. The pain from a full or excess condition is usually a sharper more intense pain, where pain from an empty or deficient condition is more dull and less intense.
The above statement though has stuck with me since I first started school, because unlike some of the other sayings we are taught, this one made sense right away! Of course when something is stuck there will be pain I thought, but the further I got into school the more I really understood what this statement meant.
Pain comes in two forms acute and chronic. Acupuncture has been known especially for treating chronic pain when nothing else works. But, as the controversy of opioid pain meds is on the rise, acupuncture has been moved to the top of the list for alternative ways of pain management. It is no longer mainly looked at as a last ditch effort in relief when nothing has worked yet.
I have worked with patients who use acupuncture first for everything, and I have worked with patients who did use acupuncture as their last option and what I have learned from both is the same thing. Acupuncture works! And the ones who use it as their last resort are usually the most shocked and thankful that it does work!
In general for acute injuries pain is decreased within the first session and then continues to decrease through the follow ups, often we do 6-8 treatments total and the spacing of the treatments depends on the severity of the injury. And for chronic pain, I have had a few patients even feel a slight decrease in pain within the first few days of the first treatment, but the relief doesn’t last as long as acute pain cases do. For chronic pain I recommend treatments every week for about 6 weeks, and if possible for the first three weeks two treatments a week. With this schedule there is greater pain relief and longer lasting results.
After the first initial treatments for both acute or chronic where we get the pain to either disappear or be greatly reduced the appointments can become more spaced out, and used more as needed, so we can take control of the pain so it never gets back to where it was when treatments first started.
But what type of pain are we talking about? The first thing that most people think of when you say pain is usually physical pain, and I admit that was the first thing I thought about when I was told, “where there is stagnation, there is pain.” I thought, yes if you break your arm that stops the free flow of energy of the body, and of course there would be pain. Or if you twist your ankle, the swelling will block the flow, causing stagnation and of course there will be pain.
What I didn’t realize at the time though was pain can come in many forms. Emotional pain for example. When we get angry and repress that anger in TCM, we can create Liver Qi Stagnation. But where is the pain in this case? Often it comes in the forms of headaches, the Liver energy cannot flow freely through the body so it rises causing headaches.
Or what about grief? When we feel sad, and we don’t let ourselves cry and grieve that emotion gets stuck. The Lungs are related to the chest, and with repressed grief and sadness, chest oppression is a common symptom.
The common theme with both of these is not that an emotion caused pain, its that when we force ourselves to not freely feel an emotion it causes pain. That is because the energy of the emotion becomes stagnant when it doesn’t get to be expressed, and that is what causes the pain.
Acupuncture works wonders with physical pain and there are many credible studies that have proven it. But what people often fail to realize is how incredible acupuncture can be for pain that feel physical but its root is connected to something more emotional or spiritual. They are all connected, and when one becomes out of balance the other two will follow. Pain, especially chronic pain can effect every aspect of our lives, and a pill may make you feel better for a few hours, but a needle, a needle can work on the root cause of the pain, so you can feel better everyday, and get back to the life you always wanted to live!
For more questions about pain management, or even more information on root cause of pain in Traditional Chinese Medicine feel free to email me at DenverMIndBodyEssence@gmail.com or book an appointment or free consultation.