Thank you for your interest in my acupuncture practice here in St. Augustine. I have been treating pain since my first practice back in 1988. At that time I used a method of massage from Japan called Shiatsu. I currently use acupuncture, shiatsu, massage and other related therapies to help my patients who suffer with acute and chronic pain.
While I treat other conditions with acupuncture and or Chinese herbs, such as infertility, digestive disorders, symptoms from stroke, painful menstruation, and other complaints, I’ve chosen to focus my practice on treating pain with acupuncture for many reasons, including the fact that most of the time, acupuncture works.
Pain, particularly chronic pain, is very debilitating and robs many patients from the everyday joys of life. I have seen lives literally destroyed by chronic pain. People have lost their jobs, marriages, businesses, and some have taken their lives due to the constant agony that chronic pain brings.
Pain is both, a friend and a foe. When something is wrong in the body, usually pain is the siren that lets us know there’s a problem. In this case, pain is a friend. But as a friend, pain does not like to be ignored. If left unattended, this friend quickly becomes an adversary.
On your first visit to my practice, before reading your intake form, or listening to the reason for your visit, I will start by first taking your pulses from the right and left wrists. If your visit is related to pain, I will ask you a number of questions. Reading through these questions will help you to prepare for our first sessions. Here a a few:
- How long has the pain been bothering you?
- Did the pain come in suddenly or gradually?
- Is there a history of trauma including previous surgeries?
- What aggravates the pain?
- What makes it feel better?
- What is the nature of the pain? Is it a sharp pain, dull, aching, etc.?
- In a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest discomfort, what would you grade the pain now?
- What time of the day is the pain the highest? Morning? Evening?
- Does heat or cold make the pain feel better or which one aggravates it?
The above are just a few of the questions that I will ask about your condition. They will help me determine the source of the pain and to prepare a treatment plan. The above questions are not in writing. I believe that the mannerism and body language as the questions are being answered help me in making a better diagnosis. I will also conduct basic orthopedic test to further isolate the source of pain.
Discomfort is not the only component of pain. Pain brings with it addiction to narcotics, feelings of guilt and blame for the “trouble” we cause others. It has an overall effect on our psyche, our body composition and let’s not forget the bank.
There are no panaceas for treating pain. There are, however, many therapies that can help with pain. I’ll cite a few: bio-feedback, physical therapy, chiropractic therapy, massage therapy, cryotherapy, trigger point therapy, surgery, acupuncture and a myriad of other modalities including some based on faith systems. All of these work, and yet, none of them work. Why is that?
In my experience I’ve isolated three main reasons for some of these therapies to not work. One is that often these therapies are used in isolation without other supportive modalities. This is often true in practices that are insurance based and therapeutic methods are used based on the plan/policy’s coverage. So if your plan does not include massage, acupuncture, therapeutic exercises, etc., you are out of luck unless you pay out of pocket.
A second reason is the patient is unable or not willing to follow the treatment plan, for either financial reasons, lack of time, or just feels the therapy is not working after one or two treatments. Everyone wants a quick fix.
And a third, and often overlooked reason, is that therapy focused primarily on the reduction of pain, but failed to restore function. Function restoration must be address if the pain is to be kept away. Particularly if the source of pain is from poor functional movement due to either trauma, muscle fatigue from overloading and other reasons. More about this on a future article.
It should be understood that the treatment of pain, particularly chronic pain, takes time to show improvement, and patience from both the practitioner and the patient is essential for success. In my experience, however, you will receive some to substantial pain relief on your first visit. Follow ups will continue to improve the condition. it is important to understand that the frequency and proximity of treatments often yield the best results. Treatments that are too far apart often end up not being as effective with guarding and poor functional patterns re-emerging.
In my practice I employ several styles of acupuncture and therapies that fall within my scope of practice including TENS therapy, massage, cupping, heat or cold, therapeutic oils and liniments. I have become, through experience, a believer of distal acupuncture methods such as the Balance Method of Dr. Tan, and the system treatment developed by Master Tung. Both of these methods employ the use of points located on the limbs to treat all types of pain including pain of visceral origin. In most cases I also include therapeutic exercises when the pain is a result of functional muscle weakness or imbalance.
Look around my site. You will get a better idea of where I’m coming from in my work and hope that it will help you in choosing me as your acupuncturist.
To Your Health!
Fernando Bernall, DOM, AP
Saint Augustine, FL