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Acu in Practice: Design a Point RX

Welcome to acu in practice! I recently took almost a month off to celebrate my 40th and to experience parts of Scandinavia. I’m back now and continue to think about how much I appreciated the Scandinavian attention to design – form and function – that is apparent in both major projects such as the Oslo Opera House and smaller, simpler things like the door handles in public restrooms. Similarly, in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, no matter how small or big the patient problem, we use the same guiding principles to “design” our point prescription with the overall goal of improving form and function. For the next few weeks, Acu in Practice will focus on the basics of design – or the treatment principles – of commonly encountered problems in pets. Let’s start with one that is very general and also extremely important…Musculoskeletal Pain.

Treatment principles:

1. Treat the local stagnation or pain – choose local points (if tolerated), points above and below the site of pain and distal on the affected channels.

2. Treat the underlying pattern – in chronic musculoskeletal pain or Bi syndromes, this will always include the Kidney. The Liver and Spleen are often involved as well. The Liver ensures the smooth flow of Qi and Blood while the Spleen plays a key role in ensuring that there is enough Blood to circulate and nourish the muscles preventing atrophy.

3. Utilize electroacupuncture, moxa and aquapuncture when appropriate and when additional help with neurologic function or pain relief (serotonin cascade) is needed.

Case example:

A 12- year old Dachshund comes to visit you because he has been yelping off and on when jumping off the couch and seems less coordinated in the hind end. Last week, he jumped off the couch and was unable to use his rear limbs. His people took him to the ER hospital where he was diagnosed with an acute episode of Intervertebral Disc Disease. He responded well to medical management that included pain medications and steroid therapy for the inflamed disc. Radiographs showed narrow disc spaces at T11-12 and T12 – 13. Further imaging was recommended, but his people are not electing to pursue these options or to pursue the possibility of surgery. During his exam today, he is sensitive to palpation around T10-L3 with muscle tension on either side of the spine in that area. His pulses are wiry and strongest at the deep level. His tongue has a slight lavender color and may be a little pale. Conscious proprioception (CP) is delayed in the left rear, but otherwise his mobility is normal. He is still on Prednisone and Tramadol (pain killer) at this time.

Create your point prescription based on the TCM principles of “design” – then share it! How can you improve this patient’s form and function…Yin and Yang!


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