Since 1996, the Department of Labor & Industries has been researching Eastern medicine as a viable treatment for injuries in the United States. At 1st Choice Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine in Bellevue, WA, we are proud to offer acupuncture to our clients to help them recover from on-the-job injuries. Are you unsure about what to expect with acupuncture through worker’s compensation? You’re in the right place. Keep reading to discover what to expect from acupuncture recommended by your state’s worker’s comp board.
What to Expect From Acupuncture Through Worker’s Compensation
What Is Acupuncture?
To understand what to expect from acupuncture through worker’s compensation, you must first understand what acupuncture is. Acupuncture is an essential component of traditional Chinese medicine. This technique has been practiced in China for approximately 4,000 years. It involves the insertion and manipulation of fine needles into pressure points on the body.
Does It Hurt?
Some people are intimidated by the thought of several needles sticking out of their body. However, the needles are so fine that their insertion causes no pain. In fact, many of our clients are so comfortable during treatment that they fall asleep. You may feel the needles being inserted into the treatment site. However, once they have reached their intended depth, you’ll only feel a vague tingling sensation.
What Does Acupuncture Treat?
Research is still being done to determine which types of pain and injuries are best treated with acupuncture. However, a lot of research has been conducted since the FDA declared acupuncture needles to be medical devices in 1996.
In 2012, a study found that acupuncture was better than no acupuncture treatment or alternative treatment methods for the following:
- Back and neck pain
- Chronic headache
- Shoulder pain
Acupuncture gives our bodies the opportunity to heal themselves. Prescription painkillers merely put a Band-Aid on the problem. It’s important to note, however, that acupuncture may need to be part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
What Can I Expect From My First Treatment?
Every acupuncturist has his own unique style. They may even blend the best aspects of Eastern and Western medicinal approaches. During your first evaluation, we will determine the most effective acupuncture method to provide you with the most relief.
We will review your symptoms, behaviors, and lifestyle. We will also assess the region of your body that is injured. We may also evaluate the rhythm, strength, and quality of your pulse through your wrist. While your initial assessment and treatment can take up to an hour, subsequent acupuncture treatments should only take around half an hour.
The number of treatments you can expect depends on the number and severity of your complaints. For one injury, you may only need one to two treatment sessions per week. Many of our clients need only six to eight treatments during their entire recovery process.
During the Treatment
There are acupuncture points all throughout your body. However, the correct point to alleviate your pain may not be near the actual injury site. We will inform you ahead of time what area we need to treat to alleviate your discomfort and if you will need to remove any clothing. If necessary, we will provide a cover. Before treatment starts, you will lie on a padded table.
Once you have removed any necessary clothing and you are lying on the padded table, we will insert the acupuncture needles. We insert these medical devices at strategic points to various depths on your body. Because the needles are so fine, you will feel no discomfort. Depending on the exact injury, you may need between five and 20 needles.
Needle Manipulation and Removal
The next step in treatment is needle manipulation. We will move or twirl the needles gently or apply mild electrical pulses or heat to the needles to enhance the treatment. Afterwards, the needles will remain in place for 10 to 20 minutes while you relax and your body starts to heal itself. There is no discomfort during the removal process, either.
What Can I Expect After My First Treatment?
Everyone’s response to acupuncture is unique. In cases of anxiety or postpartum depression, clients feel energized after their treatment. When clients come in after a workplace injury, clients walk away feeling relaxed. Remember, it takes time for your body to heal itself after an injury. Even if you feel better immediately after treatment, you may still need to come in for follow-up sessions.
Acupuncture for Cancer Treatment
Unfortunately, there are many jobs in the United States that increase the risk of lung cancer. If you’ve filed a worker’s compensation claim for cancer treatment and are on radiation therapy or chemotherapy, acupuncture may be able to help.
Both radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause nausea and vomiting. However, decades of research indicates that stimulating your body’s P6 pressure point alleviates nausea and eliminates vomiting. In severe cases, an electric current may be used to enhance the effects.
Remember, whether you’ve undergone an invasive procedure for lung cancer or an alternative therapy, cancer treatment leaves your immune system weakened. That’s why it’s crucial you get your acupuncture done through a reputable provider, like 1st Choice Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine.
Acupuncture for Osteoarthritis
Many people aren’t aware that their job can induce or worsen osteoarthritis. However, it’s fairly common to see worker’s compensation claims filed to treat osteoarthritis of the knee. This condition is also known as “wear-and-tear disease” or degenerative joint disease. While it commonly affects the knee in occupations with regular walking, it may also affect your fingers, elbows or hips. Any repetitive motion over time can lead to the wasting away of cartilage and your bones rubbing together painfully.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, your health is determined by the qi, or energy, flowing through your body along pathways known as meridians. Ancient Chinese doctors believed blockages of these meridians or unbalanced qi caused illness. These doctors believed the only way to heal a patient was to carefully and precisely insert sharp, fine needles into pressure points to remove blockages and restore balance in the qi.
While Western medicine doesn’t recognize qi or meridians as fact, there is a massive body of evidence demonstrating that acupuncture alleviates pain.
Acupuncture to Alleviate Neck Pain
Upper back pain and muscle tension are the two most common triggers of neck pain. However, in most worker’s compensation claims, the cause is broken down cartilage and worn joints. Neck pain may manifest itself as uncontrollable muscle spasms or joint stiffness.
Acupuncture treats neck pain by stimulating pain-relieving chemicals in your body. While similar in theory, acupressure does not provide the same relief because it does not stimulate your body’s neurotransmitters like the insertion of needles does.
Jian Jing (GB21) refers to your shoulder muscles between your anterior deltoids and your neck. This is the first site to be treated when using acupuncture to relieve neck pain. It can treat sore or stiff necks as well as severe muscle tension and chronic headaches.
He Gu (L14) refers to the webby skin fold found between your forefinger and thumb. This pressure point eases joint pain in the neck.
Your wind pool, also known as Feng Chi or GB20, is located behind your earlobe. It is found between the base of your skull and the top of your neck. This acupuncture point treats a great deal of pain and discomfort ranging from headache and fatigue to a stiff neck from sleeping the wrong way.
Zhong Zu (TE3) is found between the knuckles above your ring finger and pinky. This pressure point is used to treat tension headaches, stress-related neck pain and much more.
The heaven’s pillar pressure points are located on either side of your neck right above your shoulders. It is approximately two inches above the top of your backbone at the base of your skull. Stimulating these pressure points can relieve neck pain caused by severe sinus congestion, swollen lymph nodes, and viral infections.
Why Is Acupuncture Through Worker’s Compensation Recommended?
Your state’s worker’s compensation board may recommend acupuncture because it is a safe, effective alternative to more dangerous pain relief methods. In the past, prescription narcotics were used to treat pain resulting from workplace injuries. However, these medications are highly addictive, can lead to the use of illegal narcotics and can damage your lymphatic system.
How to Prepare
Since acupuncture therapy is not an invasive medical procedure, not a lot of preparation is required before treatment. However, there are some general guidelines to help you achieve the best results and enjoy the most relaxing, effective treatment.
Set Aside Plenty of Time
Your acupuncture treatment should only take between 30 and 60 minutes. However, we strongly recommend that you do not overbook yourself on the day of your treatment. Don’t schedule your treatment immediately after a stressful activity and don’t schedule your acupuncture therapy right before a regional board meeting, your kid’s basketball championship, or your family reunion.
Bring a List of All Your Current Medications and Supplements
It’s important to let us know all medications and supplements you are taking. This includes both over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as vitamins and herbal supplements. This is just to make sure you’re not taking anything, like vitamin E or ibuprofen, regularly that can thin your blood.
Eat an Appropriate Amount Before Your Appointment
We strongly recommend you eat a reasonably portioned meal two hours prior to your treatment. You don’t want to lie on your stomach for half an hour immediately after eating a large, heavy meal. Contrastingly, you should be satiated so you can relax and heal rather than thinking about your next meal.
Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing
Wearing loose-fitting clothing serves a few purposes. First, you’re not thinking about your button digging into your stomach while you’re trying to relax. Second, loose-fitting clothing makes it easier for us to get the needles in the appropriate places. Third, wearing comfy clothes will help you get into the mindset of relaxation and recovery.
Do not drink coffee or tea or take an energy supplement two hours prior to your treatment. Even if your reason for acupuncture therapy is not anxiety, our aim is to relax you. Stress causes an inflammatory response which slows your body’s ability to heal itself. One of acupuncture’s goals is to relax your body, reducing inflammation and speeding up your body’s recovery mechanisms. Unfortunately, caffeine triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response, diminishing the effects of treatment.
Am I a Good Candidate?
Because acupuncture is so safe, nearly everyone is a good candidate. However, you should stop taking blood thinners two weeks before treatment if you have a bleeding disorder or blood disease. Let us know if you are using a pacemaker so we know not to apply mild electrical pulses to the needles. Finally, let us know if you are pregnant. Certain types of acupuncture stimulate labor.
Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today
Acupuncture can effectively alleviate pain without the side effects and risks that come with prescription narcotics. To learn more about acupuncture workers compensation, contact us at 1st Choice Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine in Bellevue, WA today to schedule your initial consultation.